Documenting City at Its Worst, and Its Rebirth

Larry Racioppo held all the usual “New York artist jobs” to support himself and the small storefront darkroom he had in Sunset Park. Cabby, bartender and carpenter, to name a few. Turns out that last one – a 10-year stretch working with some sculptors turned contractors – gave him the insight for what would become a photography career, when he was hired in 1989 as staff photographer for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

The city had become the landlord of last resort, and it was Mr. Racioppo’s job to show just how bad conditions were, from the South Bronx to East New York. But he also showed how the city found new ways to rebuild and rehabilitate its housing stock as it followed through on an ambitious program of rehabilitation and construction. Mr. Racioppo’s work captured the transformation of entire neighborhoods. David Gonzalez has a report with slide show on Lens.

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