In 1982 and 1983, native New Yorker Ken Stein worked as a staff reporter for a community newspaper in the Bronx. Just 17 years old, he hit the gritty streets of 1980s New York to document the world around him. Through his work he managed to capture the spirit of a New York quite different than the one we currently know, one with an undertone of danger and edge that has transformed over the past few decades. Stein shares, “The city was different back then. I think it was quieter, the street lights were darker, there was more room to walk and more places to wander—often everything seemed new and the different areas of the city were just that; different.”
Shot on slide film, Stein recently began scanning his work, allowing us a glimpse inside the pulse of the city. Images range from candid snaps to engaging portraits. “Taking pictures was always thrilling and I loved the way it made me feel,” Stein recalls. “It felt at times I was the only one taking pictures—I think that’s why people let me take their photos. It was a rare occurrence and I was bold as f**k back then.”
With rampant crime on the subway and a lack of police presence, Stein’s teenage confidence gave him an adventurous spirit beyond the risks. His images represent a time capsule, allowing us to reflect on what was. See more of Stein’s images on Flickr.