42nd Street, 1979.  Photographs and text by Langdon Clay.

42nd Street, 1979.

Photographs and text by Langdon Clay.
Steidl, Göttingen, Germany, 2018. 128 pp., 100 illustrations, 9¾x11½".

Publisher's Description

The gritty neon charm of late ’70s Times Square

42nd Street, 1979 contains Langdon Clay’s (born 1949) photos of a quintessential strip of 42nd Street near New York’s Times Square—showing its gritty neon charm before it became the more Disney/Las Vegas hub for theater concoctions that we know today.

Clay recalls the drab and dusty mood in New York City at the end of the 1970s: the political sea change wrought by the Vietnam War and Haight Ashbury had given way to a sense of apathy, intensified by the aftermath of an oil crisis and the lingering Cold War. The stretch of 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues had now shifted from the glorious home of gilded movie palaces of the 1940s to the shadowy site of porn theaters which many saw as the area’s ruin. Yet here real-estate moguls saw potential to transform this heart of Manhattan into a mecca of tourism, framed by skyscrapers and shaped by commerce and fast pleasures. “It was with this coming change written on every wall that I sought to record for posterity that famous block between 7th and 8th Avenues,” says Clay.

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