Newsstands are still around, but like benches and bike stands, you only notice them when you really need one. Otherwise, they are sort of invisible. More than 300 newsstands still operate in the city today and most are in Manhattan. There are few in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. At their peak, in 1950, there were over a thousand more newsstands than today. But by the 60s they would begin their long decline and in 1979 there were only about 400 newsstands were still around. When Moyra Davey decided to start shooting them 20 years ago, she saw them as vanishing pieces of an old New York. Inspired by French photographer Eugène Atget, Davey didn’t normally do street photography, but she wanted to create a unique New York series, in color.
“I connected to this idea that they were somehow analogues to dark rooms and both on their way out. Both the darkroom and the newsstand were on some level digitized.
They’re hard to photograph. Some of the guys had to be convinced. They were a bit guarded. Some were very friendly, but in general, who wouldn’t be guarded if somebody comes up and wants to take your picture?”
Davey recorded a New York City moment, now disappearing, but still hanging on. It’s funny how the most mundane photos are the most enduring. One of my favorite photos in the new Whitney museums’s show America Is Hard To See, is one by William Eggelston of the inside of a freezer in the 60s. Who would think to shoot that? Poetic photography is often about the lost and forgotten. Have a look.