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December 11, 2013

20 Amazing Black and White Photographs That Capture Daily Life of Teenage Gangs of New York City in 1959

They were young, poor and reckless but the very embodiment of 1950s cool. In 1959, Bruce Davidson read about the teenage gangs of New York City. Connecting with a social worker to make initial contact with a gang in Brooklyn called ‘The Jokers’, Davidson became a daily observer and photographer of this alienated youth culture.

“I met a group of teenagers called the Jokers,” he recalled. “I was 25 and they were about 16. I could easily have been taken for one of them. In time they allowed me to witness their fear, depression, and anger. I soon realized that I, too, was feeling their pain. In staying close to them, I uncovered my own feelings of failure, frustration, and rage.”

The 1950s are often considered passive and pale by our standards of urban reality, but Davidson’s photographs prove otherwise. His photos show images of tough people, tough lives, tough lovers, all trying to be cool.

(Photos by Bruce Davidson/Magnum Photos)


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