New York in The 70’s

Camilo José Vergara born in Chile and later he studied sociology at Notre Dame, and moved to New York in 1968.

He became a prolific street photographer in his spare time, documenting the gritty neighborhoods of the South Bronx and Lower East Side during a period of economic stagnation, poverty and urban decay.

While studying for his Master’s degree in sociology at Columbia, Vergara began to consider how he could use photography not just as a humanistic art but as a systematic method of documenting changes in the urban environment, and the changes in social behavior that come with them.

In the late 1970s, he developed a method of photographing neighborhoods in a straightforward, dispassionate manner, and rephotographing them over the years to track their transformations. He brought this methodology to studies of other economically depressed cities across the country. His life’s work has earned him a MacArthur “Genius Grant” and the National Humanities Medal.

On the Way to Harlem, 1970

On the Way to Harlem, 1970

Eagle at Westchester Ave., Bronx 1970

Eagle at Westchester Ave., Bronx 1970

1148 Longwood Ave., Bronx, 1970

1148 Longwood Ave., Bronx, 1970

Hunts Point, South Bronx, 1970

Hunts Point, South Bronx, 1970

Boy, Morrisania, S. Bronx, 1970

Boy, Morrisania, S. Bronx, 1970

Avenue C, Lower East Side, 1970

Avenue C, Lower East Side, 1970

Militant display, Window, Bushwick Brooklyn, 1970

Militant display, Window, Bushwick Brooklyn, 1970

Bronx River, Bronx, 1970

Bronx River, Bronx, 1970

Hoe Avenue at 172nd St., Bronx, 1970

Hoe Avenue at 172nd St., Bronx, 1970

View of Lower Manhattan from the Manhattan Bridge, November 1979

View of Lower Manhattan from the Manhattan Bridge, November 1979

South Bronx, 1970

South Bronx, 1970

South Bronx, 1970

South Bronx, 1970

Cadillac Fleetwood, Harlem 1970

Cadillac Fleetwood, Harlem 1970

Fifth Ave. at 110th St. E. Harlem 1970

Fifth Ave. at 110th St. E. Harlem 1970

Puerto Rican Wedding, East Harlem, 1970

Puerto Rican Wedding, East Harlem, 1970

Girls with Barbies, East Harlem, 1970

Girls with Barbies, East Harlem, 1970

65 East 125th St., Harlem, 1978

65 East 125th St., Harlem, 1978

View of the World Trade Center under construction from Duane Street, Manhattan, 1970.  The homeless man in this image woke up as he was being photographed and asked Vergara to buy him a ham sandwich.

View of the World Trade Center under construction from Duane Street, Manhattan, 1970. The homeless man in this image woke up as he was being photographed and asked Vergara to buy him a ham sandwich.

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