Captivating Photographs of 1950s New York City Discovered After 45 Years

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The greatest discoveries may be right under your nose. This was the case for Soren Larson who found a box of negatives that had been forgotten for over 45 years containing mesmerizing images left by his grandfather, Frank Larson. Few neophyte photographers could capture moments suffused with as much grit and vitality. The vintage photographs feature New Yorkers from all walks of life in an era that was defined by Marilyn Monroe, Levittown, the Cold War and the Baby Boom. You can feel the energy of these Americans emanating from beyond the confines of each frame, inviting you into their everyday slice of life. The son of Swedish immigrants from the 1890s, Frank Larson had many creative outlets from his stressful job as an auditor for the Empire Trust Company in Manhattan during the '40s and '50s. These included wood carving, the violin and amateur photography. Larson developed his photos in his basement darkroom, and even won amateur photography competitions. Little did he know that fame would arrive posthumously. An extensive collection of Larson's black and white photos are now under the care and on display at the Queens Museum of Art.
The Daily Buzz Frank Larson, photographer extraordinaire (CREDIT: franklarsonphotos)
After Frank passed away in 1964, his widow Eleanora boxed all of their belongings and moved them to storage. It wasn't until 50 years later when Soren and his mother Carol, the widow of Frank's youngest son David, came across an unassuming box in the attic. Its contents included 100 labeled envelopes containing medium-format 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" negatives. Soren describes his delight at the discovery:
"As I began unsealing each packet and holding the negatives up to the light, it was like a trip back in time, back to the New York of the early '50s." "I had seen a few examples of my grandfather's photography over the years and always admired them – our old family photo albums have a few small prints of his work in them. My father also used to speak with admiration about his father's love of photography and his weekend trips with his Rolleiflex into the city to film places like the Bowery, Chinatown and Times Square."
Watch the history and diversity of the Big Apple unfold through the eyes of a gifted photographer. Larson will make you fall in love with the city all over again.

1. This is how school girls dressed in 1953. And notice the lack of sharp-toothed butt-guards on the railings. You could park it anywhere in the city!

The Daily Buzz (CREDIT: creativeboom)

 

2. Progenitor of The Naked Cowboy? Taken in Times Square, 1954.

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3. A ticket booth in Times Square in 1954. The neon lights on Broadway were evidently still too intense for some people.

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4. Ice skating in Rockefeller Plaza in November 1954.

The Daily Buzz (CREDIT: franklarsonphotos)

5. Mott Street corner in Chinatown, January 1953. East meets West as a parked rickshaw shares the street with hardtop convertibles.

The Daily Buzz (CREDIT: franklarsonphotos)

 

6. A father and his very quiet daughter waiting for the train in 1954.

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7. Before venti caramel macchiatos to-go at Starbucks, people ordered a simple cup of coffee and had conversations at local coffee shops like these fellas in Times Square, 1954.

The Daily Buzz (CREDIT: franklarsonphotos)

 

8. Taking a moment to reflect. A different perspective of the Chrysler Building in 1953.

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9. Taken on October 28, 1954, on 50th Street. Patrons thanked God it was Friday by seeing a movie there. Now, people eat at T.G.I. Fridays in the same spot.

The Daily Buzz (CREDIT: franklarsonphotos)

10. A sightseeing tour in 1952.

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11. Stand (or sit) by me and watch the trains go by. Taken at Marble Hill in the Bronx in 1955.

The Daily Buzz (CREDIT: franklarsonphotos)

 

12. Sailors in Central Park in November 1953. New York, NY is a helluva town! Always and forever.

The Daily Buzz (CREDIT: franklarsonphotos)

 

13. Cops were so civil back in 1953. "Here, let me remove this leaf from your windshield wiper for you."

The Daily Buzz (CREDIT: franklarsonphotos)

 

14. The man's got his hands and mouth full at a shoe repair shop in 1957.

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15. Who is the main subject in this photo? Captured in 1955.

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16. You had to go get a selfie taken for you... and wait for over 50 years to post them. Taken in April, 1954.

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17. Shoe shine time requires a sense of style for everyone involved. Taken in April 1954.

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18. A clear passage under the rural Cloisters Archway in 1953.

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19. Spent after an entire day at the NY Public Library, 1955.

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20. A Hell's Kitchen blaze on 9th Avenue & 39th Street in December 1953.

The Daily Buzz (CREDIT: franklarsonphotos)

 

21. Even children dressed well in May 1954. Taken in Kissena Park, Flushing.

The Daily Buzz (CREDIT: franklarsonphotos)

 

22. Suspended animation at its best. A softball game in Central Park in 1953.

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23. People didn't stay out too late during this night shot. Taken at Water and Fletcher Streets in April 1958.

The Daily Buzz (CREDIT: franklarsonphotos)

 

24. Ah, the hustle & bustle in December 1954. Some things in the City never change, but the element of thrills and surprises in this amazing metropolis continues to embody pure magic.

The Daily Buzz CREDIT: (franklarsonphotos)
Frank Larson had acute compositional instincts that told a story whether the photographs were of landscapes or people. What did you think of these stunning images? You can see the website that Soren Larson created in dedication to his grandfather where you can see more of his photography. Prints can also be ordered from the website as well. The next time you visit with family, it might be worth exploring the basement or attic. Who knows what you may discover? A wealth of legacies may be waiting for you. H/T - creativebloom, franklarsonphotos, mymodernme