In Photos: NYC’s Summer of ’69

by Katharine Ernst


Why is it so intriguing to peek into the past? Think about how much time you spend flipping through old family albums, vintage pictures in shops or garage sales, or – dare I say – Facebook albums of yesteryear. To me it’s clear: old photos are magic. There’s some universal connective tissue between our world and the world before us, and photos are a fast way into the past.

In these photographs from Life Magazine, you find hints of places anybody who’s visited New York can reference – be it Central Park, the New York City Public Library steps, or a crowded subway station. The shots are gateways for travelling through time without actually leaving anything at all.

Step into New York City, 1969:




These days we are totally inundated with images (enough to make our eyes bleed) and they’re all disposable – if we take a photo on a cellphone we can delete it or send it deep into invisible technological space. Everything happens in seconds at our fingertips. But photos of the past were a bit more revered.

It took time to work the camera and figure out the proper setting to allow the correct amount of light in. Developing and printing were neither speedy nor easy processes, and when photographers were finished, they had a physical thing to touch and hold on to.

Modern technology has no doubt made documentation and storage more accessible, convenient, and readily available. Even with these changes, in our fast-paced modern society, our enchantment with the past undeniable. We see it in what we wear, what we buy, and what we spend time gazing at in museums or online. Why?


I don’t have an answer to this. I don’t know it would be possible to have an answer. Something tells me that each society looks to the past – that it’s a human impulse that can’t be quantified or explained. What fascinates me personally about old photographs is how two worlds simultaneously exist and overlap, even though one is not fully present. I’d love to hear some thoughts on this if any of you BUSTies are willing to share.


For more of these timeless snapshots click here. Or keep your vintage photography viewing on a role with these:

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Yeye Vintage’s Summer Lookbook Is Mod ’70s Pe…

Style Icons: My Mom and Grandma



Thanks to Buzzfeed.

Photos via Life Magazine.

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