Fascinating Photos of New York City in the Early 1980s


New York Up & Down is a fascinating series by now octogenarian Frank Horvat that shows us what a major metropolis looked like back in the early 1980s. Shot between 1982 and 1986, the street images, all taken with a Nikon SLR camera with Ektachrome, captures New York City in a raw and gritty way. Like a relationship, it’s an experience Hovat describes as “romantic.”

“New York as a city has always been 'romantic,' because I have always associated it with some emotional involvement (or rather, as the decades passed, with a series of involvements),” he states.

“Between that evening in 1959 and the beginning of my project, in 1982, I came back to New York more than a hundred times, usually to do fashion photos, but in most cases only for two or three weeks. All the same, I have calculated that these trips, laid end to end, would add up to a stay of about two years, which is equivalent to the periods of my adult life that I spent in Switzerland, in Italy, in India or in England. But if they were measured by their emotional intensity, the years in New York would count twice as much…

“This is what I tried to convey by the words 'up and down'. The highs and lows of New York are not just the transitions from Uptown to Downtown, from the darkness of the subway to the view from the top floors of the skyscrapers, from the temperatures in January to those in July. But also the shifts, between one day and the next and sometimes between one minute and the other, from exhilaration to disappointment, from triumph to failure, from fulfillment to defeat…

“Because New York is the opposite of the inhuman metropolis, as imagined by those who have never set foot there. It is, on the contrary, one of the few places on earth – and possibly the only one – where homo sapiens seems to have successfully mutated into homo urbanus. With rituals, reflexes and unwritten laws, allowing fifteen million people, who have come from all corners of the planet (or whose parents or grandparents came from there) to live together in a restricted space, in conditions that are often uncomfortable, but without becoming too prone to ripping out each others' guts – and sometimes even sharing a joke, a small gesture of support, or the hint of a physical contact that is not necessarily licentious.”















To see more revealing photos of New York City back in the day, check out this post.

Frank Horvat’s website
via [Shooting Film, L’Oeil]





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