New York City was the urban culture capital of the 70s and 80s, setting trends and leaving an impression on the world. While the Big Apple has maintained its creative influence, a lot has changed over the years. Taking a look back at photos by documentary photographers from three to four decades ago, one can see a clear difference, especially in the NYC subway.

Redditor Chewbacker shared an image by Martha Cooper, a photographer who became known for capturing the work of graffiti artists in the dawn of street art (long before Banksy hit the scene), revealing an interesting juxtaposition of two NYPD officers standing inside a subway car covered in graffiti. This was a time when spray paint was not exclusively applied outdoors. Artists, both amateurs and professionals, tagged anywhere they could reach.

Like Cooper, several other photographers documented the urban culture rich with graffiti and style as well as crime and violence, allowing one to appreciate an older, grittier version of New York that seems almost non-existent in the present day. Photographer John Conn even admits, “I liked the edge factor. Not knowing what kind of trouble I would get in next.”

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About The Author

Founder & Creative director

My name is Arjan Matteo Das and I’m a Dutch Scots-Italian Designer born and raised in the belly of the beast. I’m currently doing a bachelor’s degree at the Design Academy Eindhoven. I’m also the Creative Director & Designer at Ohana Magazine and the founder of the streetwear brand Raison d’être. As a multidisciplinary designer, I see myself as a contemporary pirate applying traditional and modern methodes to my projects. by mixing these I am able to create a Spawning pool in which I develop new concepts and designs.

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