28 Nostalgic Photos Of New York In The 1980s

Prolific photographer Frank Horvat captured fascinating scenes from the early 1980s in his project New York Up & Down.

1. Picnic in Central Park, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

The palette of New York is too rich, colour must be allowed to have its say.

Via Frank Horvat’s diary, 21st February 1983.

2. World Trade Center in a puddle, 1985.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

3. Subway at rush hour, 1982.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

While I am riding in the New York subway, to some destination whose name means nothing to me and which I’ll probably never reach, because I’ll get off at a random station, to follow some commuter whose look has intrigued me.

Via Frank Horvat’s diary, 4th April 1984

4. Steam jet in the morning sun, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

5. Two ladies, Central Park, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

6. Father and son in the Subway, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

Sixth Avenue. A dark-haired woman rushes towards me, her hair lifted by a back draft, like Medusa’s serpents. I see her in the viewfinder, for a fraction of a second. But did I press the shutter at right moment? With the right frame, the right focus, the right speed?

Via Frank Horvat’s diary, 9th February 1983.

7. Stockroom in a snack bar, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

8. Homeless person under plastic, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

9. Private detectives, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

The highs and lows of New York are not just the transitions from Uptown to Downtown, from the darkness of the subway to the view from the top floors of the sky-scrapers, from the temperatures of January to those of July. But also the shifts, from one day to the other and sometimes from one minute to the next, between exaltation and disappointment, triumph and failure, fulfillment and defeat.

Via Frank Horvat’s autobiography, 2010.

10. Women in a cafeteria, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

11. Christmas presents, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

12. Old lady, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

13. Balloons in the Subway, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

14. Painting shop, 1983.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

15. Cigarette advert, 1983.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

16. Subway, 1983.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

Most of these moments – or rather most of the slides on which they are recorded – will end up in the blue plastic bowl that lies under my projection table in Boulogne and serves as a rubbish bin. A few will survive my editing, my wife’s criticism, the objections of some of my friends, and eventually become entities on their own, almost separated from me, less and less dependent on my judgment.

Via Frank Horvat’s diary, 4th April 1984

17. Graffiti, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

18. Dwarf, 1983.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

19. “Money Is Everything”, 1986.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

20. Sandwich man, 1985.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

21. Two couples, 1985.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

22. Elevated subway, 1985.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

23. World Trade Towers in a cloud, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

New York is the opposite of the inhuman metropolis, as imagined by those who have never set foot there. It is, on the contrary, one of the few places on earth – and maybe the only one – where Homo sapiens have successfully mutated into homo urbanus. With rituals, reflexes and unwritten laws, allowing fifteen million people, who have come from all corners of the planet, to live side by side within a restricted space.

Via Frank Horvat’s autobiography, 2010.

24. Lady in a snow storm, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

25. Times Square in a snow storm, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

26. Homeless woman asleep at a table, 1984.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

27. Downtown shop window, 1986.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

28. Funeral home’s delivery boy, 1985.

Frank Horvat / Via horvatland.com

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