In the 1970s New York City had lost its appeal. The heaven-reaching skyscrapers were jaded. New York City was seedy, grotty and decayed. Seen at night, New York with its blurry neon lighting smudged by visible air could create an impressionist feel, the scars and failing beauty disguised and more easily ignored. But in daylight, the city was as washed out and lacklustre as any Soviet metropolis. People look lonely and isolated in the crowds.
Photography, once adopted by architects to show off their buildings, now speaks of their failures. A city should, even in straightened times, possess what one writer terms “layers of urban archaeology”, allowing the city dweller to wander down streets of varying age and build. New York in the troubled 1970s appears to have constructed in one monumental and tyrannical drive and then aged overnight.
In 1978, Alex Razbash was a tourist in Manhattan-centric New York City. His photos of New York City by day capture the mood, showing us ordinary faces of the city at a challenging time. Nothing shines.
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