"My mom and dad courting in the 1950s. People may imagine what romance was like in the 50s, but you don't often actually see it."

The moments captured in old photos of a place you know now but didn’t know then can feel more poignant than pictures of your own memories. It’s the combination of familiarity and distance, that this place is so far from you in time, so close to you in space, that makes strangers’ family photos brilliant little pieces of history.

Born in Boro Park, 1959, Anthony Catalano was raised among the warmth of 3rd generation Italian and Jewish families, according to the obituary his brother John wrote of him. “As soon as Anthony was old enough to, he picked up a camera and started shooting,” the obituary continues, eulogizing the lifelong New Yorker who built a darkroom in his childhood basement and passed away in March 2014 due to complications from epilepsy.

He leaves behind him a vast trove of photos spanning the 20th century and on into the 21st, documenting Brooklyn through scanned photos of his mother in her prom dress on 13th Ave., 1948, stoop hangouts through the ’70s, and tons of pictures from his beloved Coney Island, especially the Mermaid Parade. The pictures, lovingly annotated in Anthony’s expansive Flickr account, capture over half a century of borough life.

All photos and captions are by Anthony Catalano.

 

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Snowball fight with garbage cover shields. Boro Park, Brooklyn 1976
Snowball fight with garbage cover shields. Boro Park, Brooklyn 1976

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Marty & Randy at The Johnny Pump. 1978
Marty & Randy at The Johnny Pump. 1978

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Boro Park Winter 1977-1978. This was the beginning of The Storm we still talk about. Drifts ove 8ft high. These girls (not boys as I thought) let me take a nice 1st shot then got fresh with a snowball.
Boro Park Winter 1977-1978. This was the beginning of The Storm we still talk about. Drifts ove 8ft high. These girls (not boys as I thought) let me take a nice 1st shot then got fresh with a snowball

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Hanging out, relaxing in front of my porch steps in Brooklyn 1977
Hanging out, relaxing in front of my porch steps in Brooklyn 1977

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Brooklyn Stoop Hangout 1977 - Boro Park...We all went to the same grammar school across the avenue.
Brooklyn Stoop Hangout 1977 – Boro Park…We all went to the same grammar school across the avenue

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Note the 10 ave boys, eyeballing the current girl of their dreams on a bicycle built for one and in shorts no less. Dig a classic: John's Luncheonette. 1976
Note the 10 ave boys, eyeballing the current girl of their dreams on a bicycle built for one and in shorts no less. Dig a classic: John’s Luncheonette. 1976

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57th st block party 1977 Boro Park, Brooklyn NYC In the front Anthony "B" and Mom with Johnny. The guys block off even the street exits with their cars to keep the kids from wandering out into the active 13th Avenue
57th st block party 1977 Boro Park, Brooklyn NYC In the front Anthony “B” and Mom with Johnny. The guys block off even the street exits with their cars to keep the kids from wandering out into the active 13th Avenue

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Operation Sail USA Bicentennial 1776 - 1976 I took Kodachrome slides and bulk loaded Tri-X shots that day. it was overcast and very hazy. Jerry, Dad Jerry & Margaret Sozio, our tenants at the time
Operation Sail USA Bicentennial 1776 – 1976 I took Kodachrome slides and bulk loaded Tri-X shots that day. it was overcast and very hazy. Jerry, Dad Jerry & Margaret Sozio, our tenants at the time

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My brother John and Marty walking up new Utrecht Avenue in Boro Park, Brooklyn NYC in 1975
My brother John and Marty walking up new Utrecht Avenue in Boro Park, Brooklyn NYC in 1975

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OTB Brooklyn Bay Ridge 1977 70s 5th Avenue men at off-track betting storefront
OTB Brooklyn Bay Ridge 1977 70s 5th Avenue men at off-track betting storefront

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President Ford 1976 Motorcade running south on 13th avenue in Boro Park
President Ford 1976 Motorcade running south on 13th avenue in Boro Park

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NYC BMT 1978
NYC BMT 1978

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Aunt Rose, redhead at Coney Island 1949 by Mom
Aunt Rose, redhead at Coney Island 1949 by Mom

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My Mom in her prom dress on the 13th Avenue side porch - 1948
My Mom in her prom dress on the 13th Avenue side porch – 1948

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My Bikes 10sp at one of our block parties in 1976 How those flare bell bottoms didn't get caught is a mystery to me.
My Bikes 10sp at one of our block parties in 1976 How those flare bell bottoms didn’t get caught is a mystery to me.

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1976. My pal Chris' Uncle Paulie had a camera shop a few blocks away on 13th avenue that was open all the time except for Christmas, Thanksgiving and 4th of July . I could be wrong - he may have been open in the mornings. This is the last of the old style neighborhood photostores.
1976. My pal Chris’ Uncle Paulie had a camera shop a few blocks away on 13th avenue that was open all the time except for Christmas, Thanksgiving and 4th of July . I could be wrong – he may have been open in the mornings. This is the last of the old style neighborhood photostores.

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Bruno, the Ice Cream Man in 1976 under New Utrecht & 57th St. It's the end of the little things that define an era and provoke thoughts of nostalgia. Can you remember the jingle-jangle of the bells on a hot summer night? I feel like a kid again with 35c to blow
Bruno, the Ice Cream Man in 1976 under New Utrecht & 57th St. It’s the end of the little things that define an era and provoke thoughts of nostalgia. Can you remember the jingle-jangle of the bells on a hot summer night? I feel like a kid again with 35c to blow

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NYC MTA Bus Peering Child 1977 70s - 50 Cent Fare
NYC MTA Bus Peering Child 1977 70s – 50 Cent Fare

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Thanx for sharing these photos…..Brought back alot of memories even though I lived on 6th Ave and 69th St…..thanx again…..

  2. When my mother first came to the US from Italy through Port of NY, she lived in Brooklyn with a friend. Then my dad came, she married him and moved to Boston. She passed away 17 years ago, but looking at your pictures confirms everything my mother used to say about living in Brooklyn. All good! Thanks for showing the pics!

  3. I lived on 54st off 13 ave. . The picture of your parents was exactly in front of my house , 5401-13 ave. I went to St. Frances de Chantal from1961 to 1968. I don’t think we ever met ,but wasn’t your mom a teacher there. I also remember Bruno, Quarino’s grocery, Lazereth candy store, Crasti’s butcher shop. You my friend have blown my mind. And yes my last name is also Catalano , son of Mary and Salvatore. You guys lived in the corner house across from church. Would love to hear from ya………… DamianCatalano

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