The Incredible Power of Nostalgia

My grandfather left New York by the late 1930s. How much had the city changed when he took this photo in 1955? He captured the city’s sophistication and glamour from the steps of the New York Public Library (I think!).

People dressed better. No pajama bottoms and skin folds hanging over pant edges. They looked healthier. Few obese people. Even the lighting seems better.

But the conundrum of nostalgia!⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The visual glory of this magnificent city my grandfather captured hid a dark social center. Women in New York (as across America) couldn’t establish credit for themselves, if they were married. Homosexuality was a crime. Crime families operated with impunity. Abortion was illegal. Rape hardly a bother, let alone a crime. African Americans were harassed, redlined and abused. Often by the police and legal system. In southern states they were denied the right to vote.

And yet, and yet.

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”

Marcel Proust

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