Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Otter's Vanished NY

The other day, by chance, I met Ned Otter, son of photographer Robert Otter, whose black-and-white photos of New York in the 1960s can be found and purchased on a website linked to here. It was a warmish, sunny day in the Meatpacking District and I was just coming back from lunch at the doomed Florent when a stand of neatly matted photos outside the Apple Store stopped me.

I chatted awhile with Ned who explained that, while his father was a commercial photographer, he loved to walk the streets, taking photos of his Village home. His work has never been formally collected, so Ned has taken it upon himself to archive and promote the photos, none of which were dated or labeled by his father. A daunting task to say the least.

There are hundreds--all of them images of a vanished New York filled with ghosts like Sutter's Bakery, the Women's House of Detention, a Howard Johnson's on 6th and Greenwich, a desolate Highline, the Bleecker Street Cinema (before it was a Duane Reade).

For anyone who seeks to recreate our city, this collection is essential viewing. When all is glass, when all is gone, we'll have such photos to remind us of what we have lost, the people and places we permitted to pass away.

in "MePa" with a photo of "MePa" from before it got its trendy nickname

To find Ned or arrange a purchase of his prints, email or call him here.


  1. I'm a massive fan of Otter's photography. I similarly ran into him a couple of years back on Prince Street and bought a print from him (a shot of a mailbox on the corner of 14th Street and University Place, looking North towards Broadway). His shots are truly stunning by any standard (i.e. not just for the slavishly NYC-obsessed).

    On this same tip, might I strenuously recommend checking out the new exhibit of Rudy Burkhardt's NYC photography that's currently on at the Museum of The City of New York. Great stuf.

  2. although quite young at the time--I remember Sutters Bakery and The Women's House of Detention on 6th Ave and Greenwich--the women used to yell from the windows at the people on the street--


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