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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Nineteen Seventies Photographs of Decrease Manhattan Revealed America’s Decay


A ferry travels across a body of water toward the city skyline on a hazy day. In the background, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center stand prominently amidst the dense cluster of buildings, partially obscured by the fog.
Smog obscures Manhattan because the Staten Island Ferry sails on the Hudson.

Within the Nineteen Seventies, photographer Wil Blanche was assigned by the newly-formed Environmental Safety Company (EPA) to doc New York’s decaying pure surroundings in what was the primary main have a look at the affect of business cities.

Blanche’s images had been a part of Documerica, a photographic challenge taking a look at areas of environmental concern throughout the US. Blacnche’s project was to deal with Decrease Manhattan the place the newly-built 1,368-foot-tall Twin Towers had been erected.

Blanche’s process was to visually present the hyperlink between Individuals and their affect on the surroundings. He photographed all forms of scenes together with landfill websites, kids enjoying within the park, and visitors getting into the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel.

A construction site filled with rubble in an urban area. Partially completed buildings and cranes are visible, with a white car in the foreground. The tallest building in the background is under construction.
Building on Decrease Manhattan’s West Facet.
A vintage photograph shows numerous cars lined up in multiple lanes, waiting to enter a large tunnel surrounded by tall buildings in an urban setting. Traffic cones guide the vehicles. Trees and other buildings are visible in the background.
Manhattan entrance to the Brooklyn-Battery tunnel.
A row of passengers sitting on a train, most of them absorbed in reading newspapers. The scene is indoors with natural light coming through the large rectangular windows on the left side. The overall atmosphere is calm and quiet.
Commuters on the Staten Island Ferry.
A person sits on a wooden platform by the water, gazing out contemplatively. A bicycle with a basket is leaning nearby. The area is rustic, with old cars, wooden beams, and scattered debris. Another individual is visible in the background near the cars.
Overlooking Hudson River.

Now the images act as a exceptional and thorough picture documentation of a New York that was very totally different. The Nineteen Seventies was a notoriously troublesome time for the Massive Apple with riots enjoying out after a blackout in 1977.

In response to Flashbak, Blanche was a New York native who labored for magazines like Esquire, Sports activities Illustrated, and Trendy Man.

His images are an unimaginable useful resource for these finding out town’s historical past however it’s troublesome to take a look at photos of the World Commerce Middle with out enthusiastic about the horror that performed out on September 11, 2001.

A street scene from the 1970s with several parked trucks and cars. Two vintage cars, one brown and one dark blue, are in the foreground, driving on the cobblestone road. Buildings and a few pedestrians are visible in the background.
Holland tunnel visitors.
A street scene in New York City featuring the World Trade Center's Twin Towers. The church in the foreground is St. Paul's Chapel. Pedestrians walk along the sidewalk, and people and cars can be seen on the street.
Trinity Church on Decrease Broadway.

A person with long hair wearing a blue top and light-colored pants walks along a sidewalk in an urban area. The street is bordered by a tall brick wall on one side and several high-rise buildings on the other. The Twin Towers are visible in the background.

An urban construction scene with tall, skeletal high-rise buildings under construction. A crane is visible along with debris and rubble in the foreground. A truck drives along the street, with other vehicles parked nearby. The city skyline is in the background.
Residences being constructed on the Decrease West Facet.
Two people sit on a bench by the waterfront, with one drinking from a can and the other eating. A river and distant city buildings are visible in the background, along with a boat on the water. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed.
Morton Road Pier.
People sunbathing on benches and walking along a pathway in a park with the New York City skyline, including the Twin Towers, in the background on a sunny day.
Morton Road Pier.

A large red cargo ship sails in the foreground, while the iconic skyline of New York City, including the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, stands prominently against the hazy, dusky sky in the background. Other boats are visible on the water.

A view of a cityscape with tall skyscrapers under a cloudy sky. In the foreground, a parking lot is filled with various cars, mostly from the 1970s, lined up diagonally. The buildings exhibit a mix of modern and older architectural styles.

A rusted, dilapidated barge is moored by a pier in a body of water. Debris and wooden planks float near the barge, and the overcast sky looms above. The surrounding area features distant industrial structures and a relatively calm water surface.
A rusting barge and particles floating within the dock.
Two people are seen leaning on a railing, looking out at the New York City skyline from across the water in a vintage photo. The buildings of downtown Manhattan, including the Twin Towers, are prominent against a slightly hazy sky.
Staten Island Ferry.
A close-up of scattered debris from a burned building, including charred wooden planks and singed materials. In the center, a partially destroyed briefcase with papers protruding is prominently visible amidst the rubble.
Particles floating on the Hudson River.

What Was Documerica?

Documerica ran from 1972 to 1977 and concerned over 100 freelance photographers capturing photos of air and water air pollution throughout the US on behalf of the EPA. The shutterbugs additionally captured the affect of industrialization in addition to every day life in city and rural areas.

Over 22,000 pictures had been produced which provided an perception into how the surroundings was affecting individuals’s lives. The negatives and prints are housed within the Nationwide Archives and are thought of to be a precious historic useful resource.


Picture credit: Pictures by Wil Blanche/Environmental Safety Company/Public Area.

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