Back in the day, before they were jammed with al fresco dining areas, the sidewalks of New York City often served as a setting for the people I photographed. Sometimes it was serendipitous — we were en route to the next location — and other times I simply needed more light.
In any event, I spent a lot of time walking backwards.
Gay Talese, a young reporter for The New York Times, covering a posthumous tribute to John F. Kennedy outside of City Hall. The event honoring the late President featured Marian Anderson singing “God Bless America.”
Hal Prince dashing through Shubert Alley which he probably thought of as his private sidewalk for commuting to all the theaters running his shows. He’s running by what is called a Company three-sheet. Shubert Alley is a narrow 300-foot-long pedestrian alley at the heart of the Broadway theater district of New York City. It splits a block, as it runs parallel to and between Eighth Avenue and Broadway, linking West 44th Street to West 45th Street.
Norman Mailer outside The Village Voice at 11th Street and University. Norman was a founder and an editor of the newspaper.
Anaïs Nin in Washington Square Village where she lived.
Kate Millett and Gloria Steinem sitting on a summer sidewalk, near the entrance to The New School. According to Gloria, “The New School was a frequent meeting place for feminist panels and discussions because it was free and most people lived downtown. Our seating arrangement was just about being hungry and food not being allowed inside—plus our new discovery that the streets also belonged to women (at least in the daytime).”
Philip Roth sitting in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on what has to have been be one of the best sidewalks in New York City.
Nikki Giovanni and her son Thomas in Harlem. That’s a headshot of Nikki in the center of the wall mural.
Diane and Egon Von Furstenberg on Seventh Avenue, near Diane’s showroom. I was working on a cover story for New York Magazine.
Poet James Wright at the East River Promenade. It’s nice when a sidewalk has benches. “I have written about things I am deeply concerned with — crickets outside my window, cold and hungry old men, ghosts in the twilight, horses in the field, a red-haired child in her mother’s arms, a feeling of desolation in the fall, some cities I have known. I try and speak of the beauty and again of the ugliness in the lives of the poor.
Tom Wolfe displaying sartorial splendor outside his townhouse on East 62nd Street. I was photographing him for his upcoming book, Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine.
Lionel Trilling on his way to Columbia University where he taught as a long time member of Department of English and Comparative Literature.
James Baldwin at the entrance to The Russian Tea Room where he dined frequently whenever in NYC. In the last two pages of his sixth novel, Just Above my Head, Baldwin writes about two men having Bloody Marys on a Sunday afternoon at the renowned restaurant.
Bob Gottlieb in SoHo after Kate Millett’s publication party for Flying, which he edited and published at Knopf. The book launch was held at the Ballroom and guests were entertained by a feminist rock-band called The Deadly Nightshade.
William Saroyan had flown into New York from San Francisco and my only option for photographing was to do it when he visited me on 48th Street. The Time of Your Life was among his numerous plays. I think he looks like he’s having a good time himself.
Diana Trilling on Claremont Avenue where she lived with her husband, Lionel Trilling. When I photographed her she said, “Jill, I want you make me look so good that I am unrecognizable.”
S.J. Perelman in his Gramercy Park neighborhood.
Stephen King at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza.
William Maxwell on 168th Street for the annual luncheon and ceremonial held by The American Academy of Arts and Letters.
March 28, 1974: Angela Davis and Toni Morrison walking near the Random House offices where Toni worked as an editor and edited the book by her close friend.
Gore Vidal, accompanied by Random House’s Selma Shapiro (head of publicity) and Jason Epstein (his long time editor). He is en route to NBC Studios at Rockefeller Center to do the Today Show with Barbara Walters.
On September 8th, 1974, I photographed 14 different people for Life Magazine’s “A Day in the Life of America.” My husband Kurt Vonnegut is walking our dog Pumpkin on 48th Street.
On the same morning, I photographed Margaret Mead with her African walking stick on her way from her apartment to her office at the Museum of Natural History.
One more, this from the afternoon of September 5, 1974— Irving Berlin on the sidewalk outside his house on Beekman Place.
November 11, 1974: Shirley Ferro, Carole Mallory, Betsy Theodoracopulos, Halston, Berry Berenson Perkins, and Elsa Peretti on East 63rd street where the designer owned a townhouse.
Isaac Singer catching up on his mail near his apartment on the Upper West Side.
Darci Kistler visits a local ice cream parlor on the Upper West Side, Sadigurs at 267 Columbus Avenue, between 72nd and 73rd Streets. “I dance because it is fun,” said Kistler. “For me it’s like licking a scoop of butterscotch praline ice cream.” We were on the way to Lincoln Center where she was a principal dancer for the New York City Ballet.
John Ashbery lived on West 22nd Street where he loved walking around his Chelsea neighborhood.
I had been photographing a recording session by Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash and Kris Kristofferson at a studio in the Gansevoort Meatpacking district. Elvis’s twin sons Dexter and Frank joined him at the end for a stroll. The twins mother, Diana Krall, was in Europe on a concert tour.
The boys are a lot older now and have inherited their parents’ musicality: One plays piano, the other drums.
March 24, 2016: Nan Talese walking her dogs on Park Avenue which she does daily. The Australian terriers, named Bricker (the boy) and Bronte, are littermates. Nan recently announced her retirement as an Editor at Random House/Doubleday after five illustrious decades in the publishing business.