Last week, the Parks Department announced that they had recently unearthed 2,924 color slides from 1978. The slides were forgotten and hadn’t been seen in 40 years, but upon their rediscovery they were immediately celebrated with a selection printed in the NY Times over the weekend. The Parks Department has also shared some of these gems with us, and you can click through for more of these vibrant images from New York City’s past.
The photos were taken during the city’s 88-day newspaper strike, when Parks had hired eight New York Times photographers to document parks around the city.
Of the nearly three thousand slides, 60 have now been selected and mounted for an upcoming exhibition, titled 1978: The NYC Parks/New York Times Photo Project, running from May 3rd through June 14th at Central Park’s Arsenal Gallery (830 Fifth Avenue).
“I repeatedly looked at all 2,924 color slides, hoping to select a representative sampling [for the exhibit] that revealed the parks in their totality at that particular moment in time,” said NYC Parks Director of Art & Antiquities, Jonathan Kuhn. “I was interested in pictures that tell layered stories, that are well composed artistically, and not just documentary. The show is not intended to be nostalgic. It demonstrates that even in a time of fiscal hardship and distress to our parks that people of all walks of life engaged and came together in our parks, as they still do.”
Kuhn added, “Parks maintains an extensive photo archive from the 1860s to now, of images taken by staff photographers, or on contract to Parks. One of the distinctions of the 1978 body of work, is that activities are NOT posed and the pictures don’t have the feel of official images (unlike ribbon cuttings, etc.). There is a sense that you are viewing life as it is happening.”
“The photos are absolutely unreal,” Parks’ Maeri Ferguson told Gothamist. We agree.