Times Square, Then and Now

The Museum of the City of New York is adding 18 photos taken by Leland Bobbé in the 1970s.

Take a look at this great photo, shot by Leland Bobbé.


There’s so much going on here: the conversation in the foreground between a man and a woman; the glancing pedestrian; the street sign in the background highlighting the opposite end of the human spectrum (parent and child).

This photo, and 17 other similar shots from the same period, will soon be part of Museum of the City of New York’s permanent collection. All that remains is for some paperwork to be completed.

“I first contacted the museum about three years ago to see if they would be interested in viewing my work,” Bobbé tells FishbowlNY. “I think it took about six months before that actually happened. The curator showed immediate interest, but said at the time there was a moratorium on taking in new work. So that set me back at least another year.”

“I always asked when I should get back in touch and made sure to follow up at the end of any of these periods,” he continues. “You know the fine line between persistence and being a pain in the ass. I can’t remember specifically what the exact sequence was but finally last November the curator selected 18 of the images and I made prints of each one.”

The museum’s board officially approved the addition of Bobbé’s photos in February. The highlighted image was snapped in 1975, on 8th Avenue around 45th Street.

“That stretch along 8th Avenue between 42nd and 50th Streets was nicknamed The Minnesota Strip because so many Midwestern women would come to New York and end up there as prostitutes,” Bobbé recalls. “This picture was shot from the hip with a 28 millimeter lens pre-focused to about five-six feet at a small F stop, to ensure a good depth of field. By shooting this way, I was able to get close to my subjects without them knowing I was shooting. Times Square then was a far cry from the Middle America playground that it is today.”

Check out more of Bobbé’s portfolio here.

H/T: Creative Boom; copyrighted photo used with permission.

Recommended articles