Revealing Photos of New York Teen Gang Members in 1959

Renowned photographer Bruce Davidson has played an integral part in documenting New York City life and culture throughout the decades. The documentarian's project titled Brooklyn Gang is an especially interesting series that follows a group of teens in 1959 that were members of a gang.

After reading an article about fights breaking out in Prospect Park, a 25-year-old Davidson ventured over to Brooklyn in search of some insight about the supposed ruffians. At the time, there were reportedly 1,000 gang members in New York City and the photographer wanted to learn more about them, capturing photographic mementos of their lifestyle along the way.

Davidson recalls, “I met a group of teenagers called the Jokers,” he wrote in the afterword to his seminal book of insider reportage, Brooklyn Gang. “I was 25 and they were about 16. I could easily have been taken for one of them.” He adds, “In time they allowed me to witness their fear, depression, and anger. I soon realized that I, too, was feeling their pain. In staying close to them, I uncovered my own feelings of failure, frustration, and rage.”

Brooklyn Gang is currently available as a photo essay book.

Bruce Davidson on Magnum Photos
via [Vintage Everyday]


Pinar Noorata is the Managing Editor at My Modern Met. She is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Brooklyn, NY. She earned her BA in Film and Media Studies from CUNY Hunter College and is an alumni of the Center for Arts Education’s Career Development Program in NYC. She has worked at major TV, film, and publishing companies as well as other independent media businesses. When she isn’t writing, editing, or creating videos herself, Pinar enjoys watching movies, reading, crafting, drawing, and volunteering at her local animal shelter.
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