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.