Street Photographer Captures Candid Photos of New York From 1969 to 2006

Black and White Street Photography

Since the late 1960s, native New Yorker Jeff Rothstein has been documenting his hometown. Wandering the streets with his 35 mm camera, he was able to photograph and preserve a New York that “no longer exists.” Rothstein works exclusively in black and white, giving his street photography a timeless feel that can sometimes make it difficult to understand if we're looking at a scene from 1979 or 1999.

Rothstein bought his first camera in 1969—as a sports lover, he was hoping to get pictures of Mets and Yankees players at the baseball games he attended. This expanded into a gig shooting sports of his university newspaper, leading him down a path toward photojournalism and, eventually, street photography. In Rothstein's work, viewers see a New York that is dynamic and diverse, Yoko Ono and John Lennon treated the same as any pedestrian on the street.

From protestors bellowing out their rallying cries to mischievous children using the city as their playground, Rothstein's work peers into the multifaceted vibrancy of New York City. For Rothstein, it's “a perfect place to document,” as architecture, people, and urban elements blend together and give the city its unmistakable flavor.

For his book, Today's Special: New York City Images 1969-2006, Rothstein and publisher Bob Dunn were faced with the difficult task of paring his extensive archive down to 48 images. The result is a collection representative of Rothstein's work without being married to a chronological or subject-based selection.

“I'd like people to get a feel of the energy of the city as well as the quieter moments amidst the hustle and bustle,” Rothstein tells My Modern Met. “Even though most of the images in the book represent a New York that no longer exists, I think they still have a timeless feel.”

From 1969 to 2006, Jeff Rothstein wandered the streets of New York City, capturing its vibrancy through his street photography.

Jeff Rothstein - New York Street Photography

Black and White Street Photography

Jeff Rothstein Black and White Photo of New York

Photo of Yoko Ono and John Lennon in New York by Jeff Rothstein

Jeff Rothstein - New York Street Photography

Jeff Rothstein - New York Street Photography

Black and White Street Photography

Jeff Rothstein Black and White Photo of New York

Jeff Rothstein: Website

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Jeff Rothstein.

Related Articles:

Interview: Street Photographer Captures Diverse Commuters of the New York City Subway

Vintage New York Photos Reveal Gritty City Life, Before Anyone Had a Cellphone

Photographer Spends Years Documenting His Daily Commute on the New York Subway

Gritty Photos Capture the Real Street Life of New York in the 1970s

Stunning Street Photos Capture Simple Joys of Life in New York Right After WWII

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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