A labor of love: New York in the 1970s

A somewhat nerdy 14 year old me on top of dad’s 1965 Pontiac with our L.A. cousins who just arrived to spend the whole summer with us in Milford, Connecticut. JFK airport. Queens New York. July 1973.

Jersey City. Industrial wasteland with the World Trade Center and Lower Manhattan in the distance. The old chromium plant on Henderson Street at left middle. 1975

Hey, is that Theo Kojak sitting in the brown 1970s Cadillac, staking out a suspect in a battered and forlorn old industrial neighborhood in Brooklyn by the East River?  Could be!  New York. 1974

Yet more 1970s New York Subway fun as captured by my trusty Kodak Pocket Instamatic in April 1976. Burned out, graffiti covered MTA train in Midtown Manhattan. (and this was the Express train!)

1960s and 1970s car heaven. I spy a 1960s Chevy Impala, a 1971 Camaro, a Chevy Nova, a Datsun (?), Cadillac, a GMC Flxible bus, a 1960s Dodge Van and lots of VW Beetles.  What do U see? Brooklyn Battery Tunnel traffic. New York. May 1973

Prints and negatives of the New York metropolitan area, stored over decades in several shoeboxes in a closet.
About 5 years ago, Andy Blair, also known as wavz13 on Flickr, decided to send off batches of these hidden gems for digitizing. Once in the digital domain, he spent months enhancing the images taken so long ago. "Talk about a labor of love!", he says. A friend mentioned Flickr to Andy and after checking it out, he tentatively decided to start uploading.

But let’s go back to where it all began: Andy grew up in Milford, Connecticut, and his dad commuted
by train down to Manhattan every day, where he worked in the brand new World Trade Center. On days off from high school Andy would often join him, always carrying his Kodak Pocket 40 Instamatic to capture some of the sights of a Lower Manhattan significantly different than the one which exists now. "As a teen, I relished those adventures where I could walk around and take in the sights of what was then a very dirty and gritty – and potentially dangerous – Manhattan. It was so exciting to be there!"

"Although the term ‘urban exploration’ didn’t exist yet, that’s precisely what I was doing. Even as a teen, I avoided the tourist shots and went for the forgotten, obscure and abandoned (which there was plenty of back then!)"

His time on Flickr over the past 4 years has been quite an experience, Andy tells us. "One of the things I found absolutely amazing is how interested people are in these old photographs which until recently spent decades in complete obscurity."

Check out all of wavz13’s photos in his photostream, and also take a look at the sets he created, including vintage New York City, Jersey City, and Milford and Woodmont scenes to get a glimpse of not just urban sights of the New York area, but also everyday life in the USA during the 1970s.

Posted By
Kay Kremerskothen

Kay is a Community Manager for Flickr and passionate about extraordinary photography. As an editor on Flickr Blog he loves to showcase the beauty and diversity of Flickr in his posts. When he's not blogging or making Flickr more awesome (in front of and behind the scenes), you can find him taking pictures with his beloved Nikon and iPhone, listening to Hans Zimmer's music or playing board games. | On Flickr you can find him at https://flic.kr/quicksilver