Brooklyn Boro

Photographer shows that Brooklyn life wasn’t only drugs, gangs and fires in ’70s, ’80s

November 15, 2018 By Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Central Library at Grand Army Plaza. Photo courtesy of BPL

The Brooklyn Public Library is currently hosting a retrospective of vintage Brooklyn photographs taken by Larry Racioppo.

More of Racioppo’s photos, from the years 1971 to 1983, are collected in his recent book “Brooklyn Before.” Racioppo, who lived in various apartments in Park Slope and Sunset Park during those years, presents a wide panorama of Brooklyn life, ranging from local churches to Prospect Park and Coney Island. 

Gothamist points out that the book proves that the image many outsiders and younger people have of those years – that the city’s life was dominated by gang fights, robberies, drugs, fires and abandonded buildings – is quite exaggerated. 

Indeed, according to Gothamist, many of the best-known photos that have contributed to such an image were taken in a few days following the blackout of 1977.

When Racioppo, who had gone away to college, returned to the borough in 1970, he rented an apartment on 15th Street and Sixth Avenue for $125 a month. He was able to support himself there by working a few days a week as a cab driver and by being a photographer, Gothamist said.

While many changes have been for the better, Racioppo said one of the most negative changes in the city has been the increasing difficulty of getting good jobs with relatively little education and of finding affordable housing. 

The retrospective is being shown at the Brooklyn Central Library at Grand Army Plaza through Dec. 29.

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