Langdon Clay / Cars, New York City, 1974 – 1976

Langdon Clay was born in New York City in 1949. He grew up in New Jersey and Vermont and attended school in New Hampshire and Boston. Clay moved to New York in 1971 and spent the next sixteen years photographing there, around the country and in Europe for various magazines and books.

Buick LeSabre, 14th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, 1974

Buick LeSabre, Meatpacking District, 1976.

Buick Skylark, Soho, 1976

Cadillac near 23rd Street and 8th Avenue, 1975

Charlie Robert’s campaign car, Chevrolet Bel Air, Hoboken, NJ, 1976

Checker Marathon, in the Twenties near 6th Avenue, 1975

Unlike most New Yorkers, Clay spent much of the 1970s walking around Manhattan alone in the middle of the night. From 1974 to 1976, he photographed the cars he encountered while wandering the streets of New York City and nearby Hoboken, New Jersey at night. Shot in Kodachrome with a Leica and deftly lit with then new sodium vapor lights, the pictures feature a distinct array of makes and models set against the gritty details of their surrounding urban and architectural environments, and occasionally the ghostly presence of people.

Chevrolet Impala, 7th Avenue and 29th Street, 1975

Chevrolet Nova, in the Twenties near Avenue of the Americas, 1976

Ford Galaxie 500 (1966), Houston and Broadway, 1976

Gran Torino Sport, in the Twenties or Thirties on the East Side, 1975

Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1975

Plymouth Duster, 1974


It certainly wasn’t the safest way to spend his time, but “being young and foolish can have its advantages.”  Though the photographic focus is on the cars, it’s hard to ignore the fact that there are very rarely any other people in the shot. “Cars — New York City 1974-1976,” is a collection of photos of a New York City that will probably never be that eerily quiet again.

Langdon Clay and Maude Schuyler Clay Photos (official site)