Harlem, USA: Historic Photographs by Dawoud Bey
As a boy, Dawoud Bey felt like “every day was Saturday in Harlem.” The uptown Manhattan neighborhood “was a place of vibrant culture,” as the photographer would later note when he returned to capture it on film in the 1970s. “Even though the city of New York was in a state of financial crisis,” Bey observed residents “quietly living their lives…going to their churches, and otherwise comporting themselves with dignity, grace and a sense of cool.” Bey, named a MacArthur Fellow in 2017, assembled his striking portraiture from that period for his first solo show, Harlem, USA. Forty years after that exhibition premiered, the series remains a powerful testimonial of the beauty of a New York City neighborhood and its citizens. Click through the following images to get a glimpse of street-level Harlem history for yourself.