Monday, September 13, 2010

Brooklyn Gang, 1959

I just now discovered a classic photo essay, Bruce Davidson's 1959 Brooklyn Gang. Davidson spent 11 months hanging out with a street gang called The Jokers, mostly poor Polish and Irish kids, and took a fabulous collection of photographs of them.

Looking at these pictures, I see innocence and nostalgia, and I wonder why that is. Surely these kids represent the same sorts of social pathology as contemporary gangs. But without guns or hard drugs -- does that make a big difference? Or is my image of them distorted by race, by a Happy Days view of kids on the 1950s, by the passage of time?

More here, and a NY Times story on Davidson here.

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