It was on flickr that I became acquainted with the work of Tony Marciante. I was searching for images of Ratner’s Second Avenue when I found his collection covering a fire at 2nd and 5th in 1969. Impressed with his evocative work, I asked him to join the Vanishing New York flickr group and I interviewed him for this blog.
woman with rescued parrot
Tony Marciante has been taking photographs “off and on” for the past 40 years. Born on the Lower East Side and raised in Brooklyn, in the 1960s he moved back to the neighborhood where his grandmother had immigrated in 1906 and where she stayed to the end of her life.
He lived throughout the 60s on 7th Street, in an East Village he recalls as “magical and full of life,” filled with “immigrants, Beats and Hippies. It continued to be a modern-day melting pot. Outside of St. Mark's Place, the old shops and the streets looked like they did since they were settled by my grandmother's generation.”
ladies at Schrafft's
He began taking pictures in 1964 and “fell in love with the way things looked photographed, to borrow a phrase from the great Garry Winogrand.” Walker Evans became an influence and, looking at his photographs, you can see the resemblance.
Though he lives in California now, when he visits his family in Brooklyn he always makes a point to see his old neighborhood. He told me, “It is still energizing to me, but different. The wonderful edges are gone. It's not working class any more. You really do need to have money to enjoy the City, where as back then, a basic salary would get you an apartment, money to eat out every night, and great music to listen to whenever you wanted.”
fat men's shop, 3rd and 10th
Tony is one of the many great street photographers of the city who has never published and the only photograph he ever sold was in 1971 to the Museum of Modern Art for $25. He was recently featured in the Sonoma Valley Art Museum's biennial and you can find his images on the website tonymarciante.com as well as his flickr stream. Maybe one of these days the city he memorializes so beautifully will find a place for his work.
More photographers of vanishing New York:
the gayety, now village east, 2nd and 12th