CULTURE & ARTS
10/22/2014 09:14 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Classic Black-And-White Photos Capture The Glamour And Grit Of New York City's Past

Since the 1970s and 1980s, photographer Arlene Gottfried has captured the beastly city of New York in all its glory, from the muscle men of Brighton Beach to the sartorialists of Coney Island and the glam rockers of Madison Square Garden. "I don’t think they’re freaks, because then I’d be a freak, too," she explained of her subjects to Vulture.

angel
Angel & Woman on Boardwalk In Brighton Beach

The vintage exercise in documentary street photography captures the strange characters and inimitable moments that New Yorkers live for -- the many banalities that transform the city streets into a living circus, catwalk and stage. "My mother used to say ‘Arlene– just don’t wander!’," Gottfried told Lightbox. "Then I started wandering, but I got a camera because it gave it a little more meaning... a life of wandering is really what it all is."

riis
Riis Nude Bay, Queens, NY

Over time, Gottfried's visual diary has accrued additional meaning, as relics of a New York that, in many ways, no longer exists. Her images chronicle the city's transformation and gentrification with a non-judgmental eye, capturing a select view of the infinite faces and stories that NYC has to offer. From questionable facial hair and fabulous outfit choices to young love and a flagrant weirdness, Gottfried's penchant for meandering results in incidental moments with a consequential aftertaste.

"It was such a big part of my life and a lot years went into it. You are a witness to certain things that are happy, sad and changes in the environment and those are all my experiences. If I got some memorable photographs and moments, then I feel very fortunate and I think that’s probably why I do it, and why the wandering has a meaning."

"Sometimes Overwhelming" runs from November 6 until December 20, 2014 at Daniel Cooney Fine Art in New York. Whet your palate with a preview below.

  • Brothers with Their Vines, Coney Island
    Brothers with Their Vines, Coney Island
  • Doorway In Soho, NY
    Doorway In Soho, NY
  • Family In Car Coney Island, 1976
    Family In Car Coney Island, 1976
  • Guy With Radio, East 7th
    Guy With Radio, East 7th
  • Kissing on the Highway, Queens, NY
    Kissing on the Highway, Queens, NY
  • Lloyd Steir and Dogs at the Big Apple Circus, NY
    Lloyd Steir and Dogs at the Big Apple Circus, NY
  • Platform Boots, Madison Square Garden
    Platform Boots, Madison Square Garden
  • Savage-Riders at The Puertican Day Parade, 1980
    Savage-Riders at The Puertican Day Parade, 1980
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