14 Stunning Photos of African Americans in Chicago in the 1970s

From June through October 1973 and briefly during the spring of 1974, John H. White, a 28-year-old photographer with the Chicago Daily News, worked for the federal government photographing Chicago, especially the city`s African American community. White took his photographs for the Environmental Protection Agency`s (EPA) DOCUMERICA project. As White reflected recently, he saw his assignment as “an opportunity to capture a slice of life, to capture history.” His photographs portray the difficult circumstances faced by many of Chicago`s African American residents in the early 1970s, but they also catch the “spirit, love, zeal, pride, and hopes of the community.”

Today, John White is a staff photographer with the Chicago Sun-Times. He has won hundreds of awards, and his work has been exhibited and published widely. In 1982 he received the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography.

Sunrise on Lake Michigan with Chicago shown in the background. March 1973.
(National Archives and Records Administration)

 

Black sidewalk salesmen arranging their fresh fruits and vegetables on Chicago’s South Side. June 1973

 

Black products was one of the themes at the annual Black Expo held in Chicago. October 1973
Empty housing in the ghetto on Chicago`s South Side. May 1973
Chicago ghetto on the South Side. May 1973

“Chicago ghetto on the South Side. Although the percentage of Chicago blacks making $7,000 or more jumped from 26% to 58% between 1960 and 1970, a large percentage still remained unemployed. The black unemployment rate is generally assumed to be twice that of the national unemployment rate published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

The captions are John White’s own, written some time after he took his photographs. In some cases White used virtually the same caption for several images.
“Black youths play basketball at Stateway Gardens’ high-rise housing project on Chicago’s South Side. The complex has eight buildings with 1,633 two and three bedroom apartments housing 6,825 persons. They were built under the U.S. Housing Acts of 1949 and 1968. They are managed by the Chicago Housing Authority which is responsible for 41,500 public housing dwellings.”

 

“Black youngsters cool off with fire hydrant water on Chicago’s South Side in the Woodlawn community. The kids don’t go to the city beaches and use the fire hydrants to cool off instead. It’s a tradition in the community, comprised of very low income people. The area has high crime and fire records. From 1960 to 1970 the percentage of Chicago blacks with income of $7,000 or more jumped from 26% to 58%.”
“Young woman soliciting funds for a Chicago organization in a shopping center parking lot. She is one of the nearly 1.2 million black people who make up over a third of the population of Chicago. It is one of the many black faces in this project that portray life in all its seasons. The photos are portraits that reflect pride, love, beauty, hope, struggle, joy, hate, frustration, discontent, worship, and faith. She is a member of her race who is proud of her heritage.”

 

“Minority youngsters who have gathered to have their picture taken on Chicago’s South Side during a talent show. Blacks make up over one third of the 3.6 million population in the city. Chicago census figures for 1970 show a significant gap in economic security between blacks and whites. Only 35% of black families earned $10,000 to $25,000 compared to 60% of white families. Of families earning less than $8,000 a total of 50% were black compared to 21% white.”
“A black man painting a store front on South Wabash Street. One of the nearly 1.2 million people of his race who make up over a third of Chicago’s population. It is one of the many black faces in this project that portray life in all its seasons. In short, they are portraits of human beings who feel they are individuals and are proud of their heritage.” July 1973

 

Religious fervor is mirrored on the face of a Black Muslim woman, one of some 10,000 listening to Elijah Muhammad deliver his annual Savior’s Day message in Chicago. March 1974
`The Fruit of Islam,` a special group of bodyguards for Muslim leader Elijah Muhammad, sits at the bottom of the platform while he delivers his annual Savior`s Day message in Chicago. March 1974
Black bongo player performs at the International Amphitheater in Chicago as part of the annual PUSH [People United to Save Humanity] ‘Black Expo’ in the fall of 1973. October 1973
The Rev. Jesse Jackson speaks on a radio broadcast from the headquarters of Operation PUSH, [People United to Save Humanity] at its annual convention. July 1973
(All photos and text courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

18 Vintage Photographs Document Runaway Teenagers Living in the Streets of Seattle in the 1980s

Mary Ellen Mark (1941-2015) put her hands on photography in the 1960s, depicting streets scenes in her native Philadelphia as well as anti-Vietnam and women’s rights demonstrations in New York. Quite promptly, when working for Look magazine, the American photographer chose to chronicle the existences of the desperate, the marginals, the homeless, the wounded of life such as Indian street prostitutes, psychiatric patients, juvenile heroine addicts: “I care about people and that’s why I became a photographer.”

In the July 1983 issue of LIFE magazine, writer Cheryl McCall and photographer Mary Ellen Mark published “Streets of the Lost,” an in-depth article and photo essay on Seattle street kids. In the piece, McCall and Mark tell the story of a group of homeless and runaway teens—Tina, a 13-year-old prostitute with dreams of diamonds and furs; Rat and Mike, 16-year-olds who eat from dumpsters; and Dewayne, a 16-year-old boy who hanged himself in a juvenile facility when faced with the prospect of returning to the streets. It’s uneasy subject matter, and a staggering portrait of what life without a stable home can look like.

Despite the darkness of her subjects, Mary Ellen Mark always managed to propose humanistic images, freed from obscenity and disapproval. She also captured the glamour of society as a recognized celebrity portraitist and an on-set photographer for Federico Fellini or Francis Ford Coppola. The photographer succeeded in linking the illustrious with the miserable in the same melancholic yet gentle manner: “I take sad photographs. But look at the tenderness.”

Friends Rat, 16 (far left), and Mike, 17, have this Colt .45 only for defense, they insist, against men who try to pick them up or rob them. "I get hassled a lot" says Rat. "Mike's my protection." They picked Seattle because Mike had once lived there.
Friends Rat, 16 (far left), and Mike, 17, have this Colt .45 only for defense, they insist, against men who try to pick them up or rob them. “I get hassled a lot” says Rat. “Mike’s my protection.” They picked Seattle because Mike had once lived there.
Mike, passing for 18 with a fake I.D., earns $30 a week by selling plasma.
Mike, passing for 18 with a fake I.D., earns $30 a week by selling plasma.
Patti, 16, was arrested minutes after this brawl, cited for simple assault and released. Like many runaways, she learned violence at home and doesn’t hesitate to use it–even though she’s now four months pregnant–to settle all disputes. She is one of nine children, six of whom prefer the terror of the street to life in their Seattle home.
Dark-haired Patti waited until her victim’s pimp was out of sight and then jumped this girl because she never returned a borrowed jacket.
Shaken but unhurt, the girl finds her pimp. He calls the cops.
Shaken but unhurt, the girl finds her pimp. He calls the cops.
Patti’s tender side is reserved for her boyfriend, Munchkin. Patti and her boyfriend, 17, used to share motel rooms with a group of kids. Then Munchkin struck a deal with a motel manager in which Patti exchanges sex with him for a room of their own each night. But they haven’t yet found a solution to the $16 jaywalking and $125 littering tickets they–and all the kids–get almost daily. These are a form of police harassment, and one unpaid littering fine (the only means they have of paying is by prostitution or theft) means five nights in jail.
Erin and her stepfather argue when she’s home. “He doesn’t want me around,” she says. “He wants my mom all to himself.” Erin, 14, has been arrested twice for prostitution. Her probation order states that she must live with her family, not on the streets. Home is a one-room apartment over a tavern in downtown Seattle, and her bed is the couch. Her mother and stepfather, both unemployed, spend most of their time in the bar downstairs. During the year she was on the streets, Erin was raped, was lured into posing for pornographic photographs and supported a pimp by turning tricks.
Laurie, 14, says she was promised $80 by a middle-aged doctor who sexually abused her but reneged on the payment. She recently left Seattle to live with a Christian group in Kent, Wash.
This young dealer is injecting a 14-year-old customer with MDA (methylene dioxy amphetamine) in a crash pad for runaways. At $5 a capsule, MDA is the drug of choice among Seattle street kids–though marijuana is common, and LSD is making a comeback. MDA users need at least five capsules to attain the desired “body rush,” a violent shuddering later followed by sudden vomiting, clenching jaws and twitching eyes. The $1 “rigs” are disposable insulin syringes, but addicts dangerously reuse them as many as 50 times, honing dull needles on matchbook strips and lubricating the plungers with Vaseline.
When a homeless boy collapsed in agonizing spasms, fire department medics speculated his problem was drug related and rushed him to a hospital.
Within an hour of leaving this motel room, the two 14-year-old girls on the right were arrested for prostitution. They call the boy on the bed their “popcorn pimp” because he is only 18.
James, 18, sleeps under a waterfront viaduct.
Rat and Mike call rummaging for food in trash bins behind restaurants dumpster diving.
Rat and Mike call rummaging for food in trash bins behind restaurants dumpster diving.
Rat gives the finger to a man who ignored his begging.
Rat gives the finger to a man who ignored his begging.
This window is the only entry into the hotel.
This window is the only entry into the hotel.

Never Before Seen Photos of Vivian Maier

Since Vivian Maier’s photographs were unearthed at an auction several years back, her work and her story have captivated people across the world. The idea that a lifelong nanny was secretly an astoundingly good street photographer—that the greatest collection of photos of Chicago from the 1950s through the 1970s had been sitting undiscovered in storage unit on the South Side—prompted blog post after blog post, story after story, exhibit after exhibit. Most of these offered very little in terms of biographical information about the highly private Maier, who didn’t seem to have any family or close friends.

But surely there had been someone. A secret lover? A neighbor turned confidant, who would turn up and explain what drove Maier to carry a camera around her neck every day of her life, to capture beautiful, moving, and humorous portraits and scenes and share them with no one? Co-authors Richard Cahan and Michael Williams spent the last year attempting to fill the gaps in the story of Vivian Maier. They contacted just about every home she’d worked in, interviewed the children she cared for, the neighbors who watched her with skepticism as she pointed her camera into garbage cans. They found the people who repaired her cameras and those who sold her film. And the answer, sadly, for those of us hoping to get even further into Vivian Maier’s brain, is no. There was no one. Maier’s only partner in life, her only confidant, was her camera.

The images below, along with the majority of the other images in Cahan and Williams’ book Vivian Maier: Out of the Shadows have never before been seen. She kept them locked away from the families she worked for, never sharing them with anyone—even herself. The images come from 20,000 scanned negatives that don’t appear ever to have been printed during her lifetime.

Coney Island, New York, 1950s. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press.)
Coney Island, New York, 1950s. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press.)
Wilmette Beach, 1968. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
Wilmette Beach, 1968. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
Wilmette Beach, 1968. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
Wilmette Beach, 1968. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
New York City 1950s. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
New York City 1950s. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
New York City 1950s. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
New York City 1950s. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
Wilmette, 1968. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
Wilmette, 1968. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
The chicken man, 1967, Maxwell Street Market and skid row on west Madison Street in Chicago. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
The chicken man, 1967, Maxwell Street Market and skid row on west Madison Street in Chicago. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
Maxwell Street Market and skid row on West Madison Street in Chicago, 1967. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
Maxwell Street Market and skid row on West Madison Street in Chicago, 1967. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)

 

Woman taunts a police officer before the start of the Democratic Conventionat the International ampitheater Chicago in 1968. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)
Woman taunts a police officer before the start of the Democratic Conventionat the International ampitheater Chicago in 1968. (Photograph by Vivian Maier/Courtesy Cityfiles Press)

(via Slate)

Checkout the street photos of Fred Herzog of Vancouver.

Vintage Photos Show Amazing Vancouver Neon Signs and Streets Scenes in 1950s

Man with Bandage
Self Portait 1961
Self Portait (Fred Herzog), 1961

These colorful photos show what Vancouver’s Upper East Side and downtown looked like in its’ glory days of the 1950’s.  The photographer captures a city basking in the glow of neon signs.

The Vancouver photographs of Fred Herzog are awash with vibrant color. They are complex, mysterious, exuberant, and full of life, much like the city he photographed. Fred Herzog was born in 1930 in Germany, and came to Vancouver in 1953. He was employed as a medical photographer by day, and on evenings and weekends he took his camera to the streets, documenting daily life as he observed it. Focusing his camera on storefronts, neon signs, billboards, cafes and crowds of people, he eloquently depicts the architecture of the street as a framework for human interaction, presenting a view of the city that is both critical and elegiac.

Though Fred Herzog has been making photographs for decades, his images of city life in Vancouver in the 1950’s and 1960’s have only recently been brought to a larger public. A major retrospective at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2007 was a revelation to those who had known his work only through slides, as well as to a generation of art lovers who had not heard of him at all. Since he was never able to satisfactorily make prints from his slides, the recent possibilities of digital inkjet printing have enabled him to finally print and exhibit this important body of early color street photography.

FRED HERZOG IN THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE

“Herzog’s world — especially as revealed by the abundance of signs — is simultaneously covetous and quasi religious, sensual and unworldly. Gamblers at a fair or casino gaze beyond the frame in an ecstasy of optimism, keeping faith with the idea of an against-the-odds windfall (a.k.a. a miracle).

The relatively lengthy shutter speeds necessitated by Kodachrome — a slow, not very light-sensitive film — meant that Herzog was not only temperamentally unsuited but technically unable to snap events on the fly in the sly manner of Cartier-Bresson. Drama passed him by. He waited for time either to slow down or to come to a functional standstill. In lieu of the fast time of second hands and their snatched fractions, a strong sense of photographic history can be seen to converge on Herzog’s work.

Herzog, born in Germany in 1930, immigrated to Canada in 1952. Although he took some photographs in various places in the world, Vancouver remained his colorful stamping ground from the late 1950s onward. As with Leiter, the sense of a distinct and determining sensibility is enhanced by the relatively limited geographical frame of reference. Because the same bits of real estate crop up in multiple frames, a given view can be triangulated with other shots so that we are enclosed within an artist’s world. To look at Herzog’s work is to inhabit it.”

Hastings at Columbia, 1958
Hastings at Columbia, 1958

 

 

(via Equinox Gallery)

You might like these photos of Vintage neon signs from Hollywood’s Golden Era.