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1970s New York, through the lens of a taxi driver

Even if you never experienced it yourself, we have all heard the lore of 1970s New York City. It was a raw, dangerous, and unpolished city that was simultaneously teetering on the edge of bankruptcy and providing fertile ground for artists and many other forms of expression (some suspect and some not).

Jane Jacobs is famous for saying that “new ideas often require old buildings.” And the New York of this era was exactly that kind of city. Artist Donald Judd (a favorite of mine) bought his five-storey cast-iron building in Soho (on Spring Street) around this time (1968). He paid just under $70,000.

So it is perhaps easy to romanticize this more accessible (and equitable?) version of New York. But there were many other things going on the city at this time beyond minimalist art in Soho loft buildings.

This photo essay by Joseph Rodriguez does a great job at telling some of those other stories in a decidedly humanistic way. Joseph was a New York cab driver from 1977 to 1985. And his final years, he had taken up photography and had started documenting the people and the city through his windows.

His incredible photos are also available in this book called, TAXI: Journey Through My Windows 1977-1987.

Photo: Joseph Rodriguez

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