Jamel Shabazz’s Most Iconic Images From The Streets Of New York

Published March 17, 2017
Jamel Shabazz Dog Owner
A Dog Owner Showing the Strength of His Pit Bull Terrier, Lower East Side, Manhattan, 1980.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Jamel Shabazz Mattress Jump
Flying High, Brownsville, Brooklyn, 1982.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Jamel Shabazz Boombox
The Brothers, Downtown Brooklyn, 1983.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Shopping Cart
A Time of Innocence, Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1980.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Young Mac
Young Mack, East Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1982.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Bronx Subway
The Observer, Times Square, 1982.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Bowery Boys
The Bowery Boys, Lower East Side, Manhattan, 1982.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Boys Boombox
Boys in the Hood, Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1982.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Cops Suspect
A Suspect is Apprehended after an Attempted Robbery, East Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1980.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Dancing Salsa
The Salsa King Working His Magic with His Young Student, Coney Island, 1995.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Friends
Friends, Midtown Manhattan, 1990.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Friends Hats
Street Photographers of Times Square Pose for a Photo during Some Down Time, Times Square, 1982.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Girl Boy Bike
Lawrence and Tee, East Flatbush,Brooklyn, 1982.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Girl Street Corner
The Bus Stop, East Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1980.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Groceries
The Market, Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1982.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Hare Krishnas
Hare Krishnas Sharing Their Vibrations, Downtown Brooklyn, 1983.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Kids Tricycle
Young Boys on the Move, Bushwick, Brooklyn, 1980s.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

No Dogs Allowed
No Dogs Allowed, SoHo, 2004.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Harlem Police
Another Side of Harlem, Harlem, 1997.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Lunch Break
Lunch Break, Lower Manhattan, 1994.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Gucci Bag
When Two Worlds Meet, Jamaica, Queens, 1997.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Couple Red
Red on Red Love, Jamaica, Queens, 1998.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Dyke Generation
Thanks Mom, Washington Square Park, Manhattan, 1996.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Old Man
Homeless in America, Midtown Manhattan, 1981.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Old Man Music
The Musician, Midtown Manhattan, 1982.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Police Van
Police Officers from the Truancy Unit Question a Student, East Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1980.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Policemen
Black and Blue, Times Square, 1981.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

East Flatbush Crew
The East Flatbush Crew, East Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1980.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Porsche
Driving while Black, Times Square, 1982.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Retro Kids
The Original Retro Kids at 106 and Park Avenue, East Harlem, 2010.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live on the Deuce, Times Square, 1984.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Street Photographer
The Legendary Street Photographer Louis Mendes, Midtown Manhattan, 1990.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

The Entertainers
The Entertainers, Midtown Manhattan, 1983.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Traffic Cop
Traffic, Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1980.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Twin Towers
The World Trade Center, Lower Manhattan, 1982.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Two Guys
Ron and Hooker, East Flatbush, Brooklyn, 1981.Jamel Shabazz/Sights in the City, New York Photographs

Jamel Shabazz may have only been a 20-year-old when he started photographing New York City in the 1980s, but the Brooklyn-born artist captured the city in a way that nobody else seemed capable of.

His photographs now hang in the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Whitney Museum, and the Smithsonian. And his new book, Jamel Shabazz: Sights in the City, New York Photographs, adds even more to his reputation.

The book contains 120 photographs taken between the 1980s and the 2000s, in what The New York Times calls the "visual record of the 1980s, when he immortalized urban styles and attitudes ‘before rap made them large.’”

And as for the New York of today, “New York City has still maintained its vibrancy and constant flow of energy and magnetism that make it one of the greatest cities in the world,” Shabazz told Dazed Digital. “I honestly feel that if I had lived in any other borough outside of Brooklyn, I would not have been able to document such cultural diversity.”

While the city has kept its sheen, Shabazz says that the skyrocketing cost of living and technological shifts have changed who can live in the city -- and what life "looks" like for those who remain.

Folks are “disconnected and distracted like never before,” Shabazz said. “Back in the days, it was very possible to engage a person in a basic conversation. Today the majority of people are pretty much in their own private worlds, thus making the old school way of communication somewhat outdated.”

For more of Shabazz’s work, check out the 2013 documentary Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer, which chronicles his illustrious career as well as the photos in the gallery above, presented with their original captions.


Next, venture into the rough-and-tumble New York City streets of the 1970s and 1980s.

All That's Interesting
All That's Interesting is a Brooklyn-based digital publisher that seeks out the stories to illuminate the past, present, and future.