1980s New York City Captured Through the Eyes of a Teenager

Pulse of 1980's NYC Captured On Slide Film

In 1982 and 1983, native New Yorker Ken Stein worked as a staff reporter for a community newspaper in the Bronx. Just 17 years old, he hit the gritty streets of 1980s New York to document the world around him. Through his work he managed to capture the spirit of a New York quite different than the one we currently know, one with an undertone of danger and edge that has transformed over the past few decades. Stein shares, “The city was different back then. I think it was quieter, the street lights were darker, there was more room to walk and more places to wander—often everything seemed new and the different areas of the city were just that; different.”

Shot on slide film, Stein recently began scanning his work, allowing us a glimpse inside the pulse of the city. Images range from candid snaps to engaging portraits. “Taking pictures was always thrilling and I loved the way it made me feel,” Stein recalls. “It felt at times I was the only one taking pictures—I think that's why people let me take their photos. It was a rare occurrence and I was bold as f**k back then.”

With rampant crime on the subway and a lack of police presence, Stein's teenage confidence gave him an adventurous spirit beyond the risks. His images represent a time capsule, allowing us to reflect on what was. See more of Stein's images on Flickr.

Candid Snapshot Of New Yorker In The 1980's

The Spirit Of New York In The 1980's

Gritty Subway Shots Of 1980's New York City

1980's Portrait In New York Subway

New York Subway In The 1980's Captured On Slide Film

Portraits Of New Yorkers On The Subway In The 1980's

Candid Subway Shots Captured In 1980's New York City

Portrait Of 1980's New Yorker

Engaging Shots Of New Yorkers In The 1980'sGritty Subways Of 1980's New York

1980's Street Art On New York SubwayThe Spirit Of 1980's New York

Ken Stein: Flickr
via [Gothamist]

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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