December 28, 2014

30 Incredible Photographs That Capture 1970s America's True Colors

Founded by Gifford Hampshire, Documerica lasted about six years, hired roughly 70 photographers, and knocked out 115 assignments in all 50 states. Photographers were paid $150 a day plus film and expenses and were given the creative freedom to interpret environmental issues outlined to them from EPA employees.

The results—22,000 images—ended up documenting environmental issues and brought another meaning to environment that focused on local neighborhoods, social issues, political changes, and the remarkable fashion trends typical of the 1970s.

Children play in the yard of Ruston home, while a Tacoma smelter stack showers the area with arsenic and lead residue. Ruston, Washington, August 1972. (Gene Daniels/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Stanton Street in the second ward, the Spanish-speaking section. El Paso, Texas, June 1972. (Danny Lyon/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Gasoline stations abandoned during the fuel crisis in winter of 1973-74. (David Falconer/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Housing adjacent to a U.S. Steel plant. Birmingham, Alabama, July 1972. (Leroy Woodson/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Chemical plants on shore are considered prime source of pollution. Lake Charles, Louisiana, June 1972. (Marc St. Gil/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Cyclist in front of environmental center. Humbolt County, California, May 1972. (Thomas Sennett/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Two Latin girls pose in front of a wall of graffiti in Lynch Park, Brooklyn, New York, June 1974. (Danny Lyon/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Photograph of a bride and her attendants in New Ulm, Minnesota. New Ulm, Minnesota, October 1974. (Art Hanson/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Mary Workman holds a jar of undrinkable water that comes from her well, and she has filed a damage suit against the Hanna Coal Company. She has to transport water from a well many miles away although the coal company owns all the land around her, and many roads are closed, she refuses to sell. Near Steubenville, Ohio, October 1973. (Eric Calonius/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Michigan Avenue, Chicago (couple on street). Chicago, Ilinois, July 1975. (Perry Riddle/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Industrial smog blacks out homes adjacent to North Birmingham pipe plant. This is the most heavily polluted area of the city. Birmingham, Alabama, July 1972. (Leroy Woodson/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Dorothy Thierolf, Ocean Beach businesswoman and leader of the fight to reopen nearby beach to auto traffic. To protect clam beds the state government had banned cars from a short stretch of beach during the summer months on August 12, 1972. (Gene Daniels/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Near the town of Wisconsin Dells the Wisconsin River channels through deep, soft sandstone cliffs, cutting rock into fantastic shapes. These natural splendors have given rise to a booming tourist industry. People come in droves, often in campers and trailers. September 1973 (Jonas Dovydenas/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Stevensville children in front of a trenched house. Owner dug trench and formed levee to protect house from flood waters. Stevensville, Louisiana, May 1973. (John Messina/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

The painted bus is home. Rifle, Colorado, October 1972. (David Hiser/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Abandoned automobiles and other debris clutter an acid water and oil filled five acre pond. It was cleaned up under EPA supervision to prevent possible contamination of Great Salt Lake and a wildlife refuge nearby.” Near Ogden, Utah, April 1974. (Bruce McAllister/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Auto dump. Escondido, California, April 1972. (Gene Daniels/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Country's fuel shortage led to problems for motorists in finding gas as well as paying much more for it, and resulted in theft from cars left unprotected. This father and son, made a sign warning thieves of the possible consequences. Portland, Oregon, April 1974. (David Falconer/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Two girls smoking pot during an outing in Cedar Woods near Leakey, Texas. (Taken with permission.) One of nine pictures near San Antonio. Leakey, Texas, May 1973. (Marc St. Gil/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Exhibit at the first symposium on low pollution power systems development held at the Marriott Motor Inn, Ann Arbor, Michigan, October 1973. (Frank Lodge/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Mr. and Mrs. Berry Howard of Cumberland, Kentucky, and the new truck he just bought with some of his black lung payments. Cumerland, Kentucky, October 1974. (Jack Corn/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

D'aug Days (pronounced dog) is a month long presentation of all the arts at downtown Cincinnati's immensely popular public plaza, Fountain Square. Dancers from New Media Theater, a Cincinnati group. Cincinnati, Ohio, August 1973. (Tom Hubbard/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

The cook at the Texan Cafe watches the snow removal crew at work. Rifle, Colorado, January 1973. (David Hiser/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Water cooling towers of the John Amos Power Plant loom over a Poca, WV, home that is on the other side of the Kanawha River. Two of the towers emit great clouds of steam. Poca, West Virginia, August 1973. (Harry Schaefer/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Central expressway leading south into Dallas. Dallas, Texas, May 1972. (Bob Smith/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Movie Theatre. Berlin, New Hampshire, June 1973. (Charles Steinhacker/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Sandra Bruno straightens a pillow in the immaculate living room of her family's home at 39 Neptune Road. Boston, Massachusetts, July 1973. (Michael Philip Manheim/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

At Bahia Honda State Park, on Bahia Honda Key, Florida. June 1973. (Flip Schulke/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Midtown traffic congestion and jaywalking pedestrians. New York, New York, April 1973. (Dan McCoy/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Hitchhiker with his dog, 'Tripper,' on U.S. 66. U.S. 66 crosses the Colorado River at Topock. Yuma County, Arizona, May 1972. (Charles O'Rear/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

(Photos: National Archives, via Slate and The Big Picture)




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