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America in the 1970s: New York City

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Today marks the start of Documerica Week on In Focus -- a new photo essay each day, featuring regions of the U.S. covered by the photographers of the Documerica Project in the early 1970s. The Documerica Project was put together by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1971, with a primary goal of documenting adverse effects of modern life on the environment, but photographers were also encouraged to record the daily life of ordinary people, capturing a broad snapshot of America. Today's subject is New York City, an area covered by many photographers, showing some of the urban decay and congestion that helped prompt environmental legislation, as well as glimpses of New Yorkers at work and play. Be sure to see the whole series: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. [30 photos]

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Manhattan Bridge tower in Brooklyn, New York City, framed through nearby buildings, in June of 1974. See this same spot today on Google Street View. (Danny Lyon/National Archives and Records Administration)
Manhattan Bridge tower in Brooklyn, New York City, framed through nearby buildings, in June of 1974. See this same spot today on Google Street View. (Danny Lyon/National Archives and Records Administration)
Boy at bat in a softball game in Hiland Park, Brooklyn, in July of 1974. (Danny Lyon/NARA) #
Crowd gathered at the Schaefer Bandstand in Central Park to hear singer Judy Collins with a dramatic view of the towers of midtown Manhattan in June of 1973. See this same spot today on Google Street View. (Suzanne Szasz/NARA) #
New Yorkers line up to receive "Free Gifts" at a Herald Square store opening, in May of 1973. (Erik Calonius/NARA) #
Despite warning signs, illegal dumping continues in this area just off the New Jersey Turnpike facing Manhattan in March of 1973. See this same spot, now a park, on Google Street View. (Gary Miller/NARA) #
Midtown traffic congestion and jaywalking pedestrians, in April of 1973. (Dan McCoy/NARA) #
A sidewalk in the Bronx becomes a playground for youngsters, in April of 1973. (Dan McCoy/NARA) #
Left: A young New Yorker ready to roar off on his Honda, in June of 1973. Right: Brooklyn's Bushwick Avenue seen from an elevated train platform in New York City, June 1974. (Arthur Tress/Danny Lyon/NARA) #
Midsummer evening quilting bee in Central Park, sponsored by the New York Parks Administration department of cultural affairs, in June of 1973. (Suzanne Szasz/NARA) #
Idled traffic heading north on Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) near 42nd street, April 1973. (Dan McCoy/NARA) #
Latin Youths at Lynch Park in Brooklyn, in June of 1974. (Danny Lyon/NARA) #
Interior of a graffiti-marked subway car, May 1973. (Erik Calonius/NARA) #
An auto chassis, submerged in Jamaica Bay, near Breezy Point, in May of 1973. (Arthur Tress/NARA) #
One of several highrise apartments whose construction was stopped by city ordinance to preserve the Breezy Point peninsula for public recreational use, in may of 1973. (Arthur Tress/NARA) #
Children at Riis Park, a public beach in Brooklyn, July 1974. (Danny Lyon/NARA) #
Commuters on the Staten Island Ferry in New York Harbor's Upper Bay, in May of 1973. (Wil Blanche/NARA) #
A fire hydrant sprays water behind three young girls on Bond Street in Brooklyn, July 1974. (Danny Lyon/NARA) #
An oil slick surrounds Liberty Island in New York Harbor, in May of 1973. (Chester Higgins/NARA) #
Holland Tunnel traffic, backed up on Canal Street, in May of 1973. See this same spot today on Google Street View. (Wil Blanche/NARA) #
Youngsters at play on the July 4th holiday at the Kosciusko Swimming Pool in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant District, in July 1974. (Danny Lyon/NARA) #
Public pay phone stalls in use at Broadway and 34th Street, in May of 1973. The first handheld mobile phone call in history was made one month prior to this photo, in midtown Manhattan, in April 1973, when Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher made a call to his chief competitor Dr. Joel S. Engel, head of Bell Labs. (Erik Calonius/NARA) #
The World Trade Center stands above lower Hudson River shipping activity, seen from the Staten Island Ferry, in May of 1973. (Wil Blanche/NARA) #
School children on their way home in Great Kills, on Staten Island, in May of 1973. (Arthur Tress/NARA) #
6th Avenue and 32nd Street, New York City, April 1973. (Dan McCoy/NARA) #
Children play in front of "A Train" graffiti in Brooklyn's Lynch Park, in June of 1974. (Danny Lyon/NARA) #
Construction on Lower Manhattan's West Side, just north of the World Trade Center, in May of 1973. (Wil Blanche/NARA) #
Abandoned "Giant Slide" at Coney Island, in May of 1973. (Arthur Tress/NARA) #
A traffic accident on a crowded street in Harlem, in May of 1973. (Chester Higgins/NARA) #
Passengers wait for a Lexington Avenue Line subway train on one of the platforms of the New York City Transit Authority, April, 1974. (Jim Pickerell/NARA) #
Students play in the wind during a school excursion on the Staten Island Ferry, crossing upper New York Bay, in June of 1973. (Arthur Tress/NARA) #
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