Brooklyn Gang

Photographer Bruce Davidson spent the summer of 1959 documenting a Brooklyn gang called the Jokers. While the 50s are often remembered in an idealized state of less violence and wholesome (white) culture, his series shows a different side of alienated youth in New York. Davidson wasn't much older than them the summer he spent in their company and the gang accepted his presence--making his pictures go beyond their tough facade to their darker, more personal moments. They are tough and confused, innocent and wise beyond their years; adolescents struggling through the world. It also shows the need to forge community; it's clear these teens were finding a family that they had been otherwise denied. The series was reprinted in 1999 with an extended afterword by a surviving member of the gang, called Bengie, who recounts his memories of drug abuse, knife fights, and suicide by one of the members. Davidson's photographs are charged with that raw emotion and carry as much punch today as they must have in a time before the term "inner city youth culture" existed.



  1. Thanks for sharing this, it's really interesting.

  2. wow you inspire me. those shoots are fantastic !

  3. LOOOVE! xx

  4. What a fascinating glimpse . . . thanks for sharing!

  5. Now THIS is how I see the fifties. Rebels. In need of strong ties. Forging those ties between themselves. This is "Rebel without a cause", actually, and that has always been my imagery of the youth culture in the fifties. ANd I could go on and on with a mad thesis on how seeing this movie at the age of 11 has forged within me the way I lived my teeange years, and the way I chose to attach myself to certain specific "urban tribes" and why I listen to certain types of music... but it is true, it all came from my watching that movie and my imagery of the 50's - that has been much like this photos ever since!!

  6. Gorgeous photographs. I love how photos like this potray the youth culture of that time. while everything seemed prim and proper in the 50s there was so many gangs like this one, they give us an insight into the developing world that society was in at that time.


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