New York City in the 1970s

December 16, 2013 · Collections ·
Richard Welling. Times Square, New York City. 2012.284.694.

Richard Welling. Times Square, New York City. 2012.284.694.

Despite not being alive in the 1970s and having only spent a limited amount of time in New York City, photographs of it in the ‘70s are some of my favorite things on earth. (Actually, really any photos from ‘70s do it for me; the Environmental Protection Agency’s 1972-1978 project, Documerica, is one of the most awesome collection of photographs ever. It was originally conceived as a way of documenting subjects of environmental concern across the United States, and while it does do that, it also seems to capture the spirit of the decade. I think. I wasn’t there.) So, Richard Welling, who I’ve written about before, was into the architecture of New York City and photographed it with his SX-70 Polaroid camera in the 1970s.

Richard Welling. Water Towers, Midtown Manhattan. 2012.284.732.

Richard Welling. Water Towers, Midtown Manhattan. 2012.284.732.

One of my favorite parts of cataloging photos of cities is figuring out what the buildings are in them. Some are obvious: the Brooklyn Bridge with the World Trade Center towers in the background, for example.

Richard Welling. Brooklyn Bridge, with Manhattan buildings in the background, including World Trade Center towers. 2012.284.768.

Richard Welling. Brooklyn Bridge, with Manhattan buildings in the background, including World Trade Center towers. 2012.284.768.

But what about this?

Richard Welling. Bellevue Hotel. 2012.284.707.

Richard Welling. Bellevue Hotel. 2012.284.707.

The building housing the Bellevue Hotel, presumably in New York, remains anonymous. Without notable landmarks or unusual architectural features, I haven’t been able to figure out what or where this building is. While it is annoying to not be able to identify buildings, I also find it kind of romantic, the idea that some things are lost to time despite our intentions to document and preserve them. Everything is, in a way, ephemeral. (Apparently it is a very existential day down here in Graphics.)

Tasha Caswell is a Project Cataloger/Researcher at the Connecticut Historical Society.

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