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Camilo José Vergara’s Study Of Old New York City: 1970-1971

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Camilo José Vergara (born 1944 in Santiago, Chile) moved to New York in 1968. Through his camera he aimed to show the state of the ordinary lives for people living in what is now called old New York.

“I began my documentation in the tradition of such masters as Helen Levitt, Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson, for all of whom the human figure was integral to their work. But increasingly, I became drawn to the urban fabric of America’s poor inner cities — to the buildings that composed it and the life and culture embedded in its structures and streets.”

 

1973 "East 167th Street, South Bronx." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1973
“East 167th Street, South Bronx.”

 

“I use photographs as a means of discovery, as a tool with which to clarify visions and construct knowledge about a particular place, or city. … A set of photographs coupled with interviews from a block, neighborhood or a building became the starting point for developing stories that I hope will help establish a place’s changing identity. My work asks basic questions: what was this place in the past, who uses it now, and what are its current prospects? Using insights from a variety of disciplines such as ethnography, history, and archeology, I uncover patterns shaping the nation’s poorest and most segregated postindustrial cities.”

 

1970 "South Bronx."

1970 “South Bronx.”

 

As MIT Professor Anne Whiston Spirn has said of photography, it “can be a way of thinking about landscape, a means to read a landscape, to discover and display processes and interactions, and to map out the structure of ideas.” As a medium of inquiry, photography is, ultimately, “a disciplined way of seeing.”

 

1970 "East Harlem." New York

1970
“East Harlem.”

1970 "Girls with Barbies, East Harlem." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“Girls with Barbies, East Harlem.”

1970 "Puerto Rican wedding, East Harlem." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“Puerto Rican wedding, East Harlem.”

1970 "Fifth Ave at 110th Street, East Harlem." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“Fifth Ave at 110th Street, East Harlem.”

1970 "Cadillac Fleetwood, Harlem."

1970
“Cadillac Fleetwood, Harlem.”

Camilo José Vergara Harlem Lexington

1970 "Bronx River, Bronx." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“Bronx River, Bronx.”

1970 "South Bronx." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“South Bronx.”

1970 "On the way to Harlem." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“On the way to Harlem.”

 1970 "View of the World Trade Center under construction from Duane Street." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS


1970
“View of the World Trade Center under construction from Duane Street.”

1970 "Hoe Avenue at 172nd Street, Bronx." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“Hoe Avenue at 172nd Street, Bronx.”

1970 "Social Club sign, South Bronx." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“Social Club sign, South Bronx.”

 1970 "Lower East Side, Manhattan." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS


1970
“Lower East Side, Manhattan.”

 1970 "Lower East Side music shop." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS


1970
“Lower East Side music shop.”

1970 "Militant display, window, Bushwick, Brooklyn." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“Militant display, window, Bushwick, Brooklyn.”

1970 "Avenue C, Lower East Side." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“Avenue C, Lower East Side.”

1970 "Boy, Morrisania, South Bronx." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“Boy, Morrisania, South Bronx.”

1970 "Hunts Point, South Bronx." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“Hunts Point, South Bronx.”

1970 "1148 Longwood Avenue, Bronx." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“1148 Longwood Avenue, Bronx.”

"Lower East Side, Manhattan." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

“Lower East Side, Manhattan.”

1970 "Eagle and Westchester Avenues, Bronx." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1970
“Eagle and Westchester Avenues, Bronx.”

 1970 "East Harlem." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS


1970
“East Harlem.”

 1971 "Garage, Bushwick, Brooklyn." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1971
“Garage, Bushwick, Brooklyn.”

1971 "113 South Bronx." IMAGE: CAMILO JOSÉ VERGARA/LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

1971 “113 South Bronx.”

65 East 125th Street, Harlem

65 East 125th Street, Harlem

65 East 125th Street, Harlem.

65 East 125th Street, Harlem.

 

Spotter: Library of Congress