By Mark McConville
STUNNING pictures have emerged that offer a glimpse into the gritty life in New York City in 1979.
The incredible images, taken over a decade before the famous “clean up” of the city under Mayor Rudi Giuliani in the 1990’s, show some of the Big Apple’s landmarks as they were back then including Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and a poignant view from inside the World Trade Centre.
Other shots portray the other side of the city that never sleeps as Chinatown and Harlem look rundown and graffiti is sprayed all over the subway.
The snaps were taken by Australian retiree Terry Dwyer (65), from Sydney, as he visited New York in 1979.
“I found NYC to be almost overwhelming so I took photos of scenes to help me remember,” he said.
“Before I left I had been living in Canberra, which was, and still is, a quiet, completely planned, low rise, spread out city with a low population density. New York was completely the opposite.
“Although I was impressed by the usual tourist attractions of NYC, I was deeply affected by what I saw when driving through Harlem or past the Bronx. The roads were full of potholes; many buildings were burned out and others were just piles of rubble.
“I wanted to photograph what I saw but many locals advised me to stay in the car, roll the windows up and to not to catch the eye of people standing on street corners.
“The pictures I took were from inside the car with one hand on the wheel and one holding the camera.”
Terry had been backpacking around the world before he settled down and took the pictures using a Pentax Spotmatic.
“Australia is a long way from other countries so I thought if I want to see the world I would have to go before I got a family or a mortgage,” he said.
“In the downtown areas we see a vibrant, energetic, slightly run down city. People were confident but many felt that the best times for the city were in the past. In Harlem and the Bronx, we see poverty, neglect, desperation, and a pervasive feeling of danger.
“The camera was heavy and large so I would plan some days to be photo taking days. I was drawn to scenes that were the most different from my neat, orderly life back in Canberra, Australia.
“So I wanted a photo of the graffiti covered subway cars even though I was warned not to use the subway. I noticed the man shining shoes, and the policeman chatting to his girlfriend. I liked the dark street with the steam rising from a manhole in the middle.
“In the subway and Harlem I had to try to make the camera as inconspicuous as possible for fear of making myself a target for mugging.”
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