Robert Herman’s “The New Yorkers” Collection of Historical Street Photography

By - Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Robert Herman’s New York street photography has been featured in plenty of blogs and magazines, and deservedly so. His book, The New Yorkers, began as a Kickstarter campaign in 2011. Herman’s New York is not the New York of Broadway’s prestige. His photography captures the human condition (according to the ’70s and ’80s), New York style, and some of the most rare retro graffiti scenes.

We’re not talking about The Sartorialist or the stylized posing we constantly see popularized in street photography. And we are definitely not talking about people throwing peace signs in front of a graffiti covered door in SoHo for their Instagram feed. On the contrary, Herman’s photo collection serves a straight dose of honest realism, highlighting the day-to-day lives of people living in New York during a time when the daily grind was anything but pristine and neatly defined. The lives and variation of New York that Herman’s photography depicts didn’t include a cup of starbucks and graffiti-free subway ride to work. There was a time when neighborhoods actually constituted communities, and hectic, cluttered streets and graffiti-covered trains were quintessential New York.

Thankfully, Herman has been carrying his camera around the streets of the city for thirty years. While capturing some incredible, dynamic and emotionally-stirring human scenes, Herman also managed to capture the city’s history. These photos of old New York subways, ridden with graffiti, are now historical references.

Obviously, the entire subway system has been buffed, renewed, replaced and polished tens, if not hundreds, of times since these photos were taken. We can’t capture the ’70s and ’80s anymore (we can’t even capture the good old ’90s, though we try with our 2015 penchant for bringing Charmed and the Prince of Bel Air back into fashion). Still, occasionally, the very observant New Yorker will catch a train running with graffiti. And as more and more money is allocated to city maintenance, in preparation for new ad placement, and as the NYPD cracks down on vandals, these days are numbered.


News via My Modern Met

All photographs by Robert Herman


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