New York/1977


Madison Avenue and 41st Street, 1977 — © Brian Rose

A story I’ve told many times — 40 years ago, today, i arrived in New York and found an apartment on East 4th Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue. At 9:34PM the lights went out, and I spent the night in Penn Station unable to get my train back down to Washington, D.C. where I  was living at the time. It was eerie in the station, but there were cops around, and I was unaware of the riots and fires raging elsewhere. A few days later I was back to this scarred and battered city with my stuff, mostly clothes, a guitar, and photography materials.

I set up a darkroom in the bedroom of my tiny apartment, and that summer began roaming the street with a 35mm Nikkormat, mostly shooting Tri-X film.I didn’t print much of it, however, because I had already begun working in color, and I soon left black and white photography behind for good. This is the second installment of scans made from that work — most of it from 1977 and 1978. As I said in an earlier blog post, I do not remember taking any of these pictures. It’s like discovering an unknown self intently searching for a style, for a formal approach, for a subject, which to a great extent turned out to be New York City.


Lexington Avenue Line, 1977 — © Brian Rose


Unknown location, 1977 — ©˙Brian Rose


East 43rd Street across from the United Nations, 1977 — © Brian Rose


158th Street, The Bronx, Yankee Stadium, 1977 — © Brian Rose

1977 — it was the summer of Son of Sam the serial killer, the Bronx was burning, and the Yankees won the World Series. It was my entree to a city that would become central to my life and career. In that first year or two I attended Cooper Union, wrote songs and hung out in clubs with my friends, met my musical comrades in arms, Jack Hardy and Suzanne Vega, and took a lot of photographs. In 1980 I teamed up with Ed Fausty to photograph the Lower East Side in color using a 4×5 view camera. It was an exciting time — though wistful nostalgia is tempered by the fact — which I have not forgotten — that it was also a difficult time, financially and emotionally.

Stay tuned for more pictures.

One thought on “New York/1977

  1. Lili Añel

    Brian your photographs are amazing. You certainly captured New York during that time. Your photos instantly take me back. Glad that you have scanned them and are posting (I’ve said this before). I think they are award winning shots. A piece of me wishes THAT New York still existed.

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