Striking Black-and-White Photos of Mid-Century New York City’s Vibrant Street Life

See New York City when Don Draper was still green and eager to break into advertising.

We see a lot of photos about New York in the ’70s and ’80s when the city was grimy as can be and boasted a thriving underground arts scene. But mid-century NYC was just as fascinating, particularly through the eyes of former census taker and advertising copywriter Jonathan Brand, who photographed city life during his walks. His new book Lower East and Upper West: New York City Photographs 1957–1968, published by powerHouse Books, features 104 black-and-white images of New Yorkers engaged in everyday life, from the Bowery to Riverside Park.

The images are far from mundane, however, as New York City rose to prominence as the cultural center of the world in the 1950s. Things took a dip in the ’60s, and Brand’s photos capture this, too, showing life in the streets during the postwar decline.

See a preview of Brand’s work in our gallery, and attend a presentation of the book on Thursday, February 15 at the POWERHOUSE Arena. Fellow artist Mark Berghash will lead a discussion on Brand’s work, followed by an audience Q&A. Find out more info about the event and RSVP over here.