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March 1, 2013

National Archives: Searching for the Seventies

“Searching for the Seventies” takes a new look at the 1970s using remarkable color photographs taken for a Federal photography project called Project DOCUMERICA (1971-1977). Created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DOCUMERICA was born out of the decade’s environmental awakening, producing striking photographs of many of that era’s environmental problems and achievements. Drawing its inspiration from the depression era Farm Security Administration photography project, project photographers created a portrait of America in the early-and-mid-1970s. They documented small Midwestern towns, barrios in the Southwest, and coal mining communities in Appalachia. Their assignments were as varied as African American life in Chicago, urban renewal in Kansas City, commuters in Washington, DC, and migrant farm workers in Colorado. The exhibit, featuring 90 images from the project opens March 8, 2013 at the National Archives in Washington D.C. It runs through September 8, 2013. What follows is a small sampling of the collection digitized by the National Archives. -- Paula Nelson (NOTE: Captions were provided.)( 30 photos total)

Children play in the yard of Ruston home, while a Tacoma smelter stack showers the area with arsenic and lead residue. Ruston, Washington, August 1972. (Gene Daniels/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)

Stanton Street in the second ward, the Spanish-speaking section. El Paso, Texas, June 1972. (Danny Lyon/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency) #

Gasoline stations abandoned during the fuel crisis in winter of 1973–74 were sometimes used for other purposes. This station at Potlatch, Washington, west of Olympia, was turned into a religious meeting hall. Signs painted on the gas pumps proclaim ‘Fill up with the Holy Ghost . . . and Salvation.' Potlatch, Washington, April 1974. (David Falconer/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Housing adjacent to a U.S. Steel plant. Birmingham, Alabama, July 1972. (Leroy Woodson/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Chemical plants on shore are considered prime source of pollution. Lake Charles, Louisiana, June 1972. (Marc St. Gil/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Cyclist in front of environmental center. Humbolt County, California, May 1972. (Thomas Sennett/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Two Latin girls pose in front of a wall of graffiti in Lynch Park, Brooklyn, New York. This project is a portrait of the inner city environment. It contains life, great murals on the walls of buildings and people enjoying themselves. Today’s inner city is a contradiction to mainstream America’s gas station expressways shopping centers and tract homes. Blacks, Latinos and poor whites live there. Brooklyn, New York, June 1974. (Danny Lyon/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Photograph of a bride and her attendants in New Ulm, Minnesota. New Ulm, Minnesota, October 1974. (Art Hanson/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Mary Workman holds a jar of undrinkable water that comes from her well, and she has filed a damage suit against the Hanna Coal Company. She has to transport water from a well many miles away although the coal company owns all the land around her, and many roads are closed, she refuses to sell. Near Steubenville, Ohio, October 1973. (Eric Calonius/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Michigan Avenue, Chicago (couple on street). Chicago, Ilinois, July 1975. (Perry Riddle/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Industrial smog blacks out homes adjacent to North Birmingham pipe plant. This is the most heavily polluted area of the city. Birmingham, Alabama, July 1972. (Leroy Woodson/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Dorothy Thierolf, Ocean Beach businesswoman and leader of the fight to reopen nearby beach to auto traffic. To protect clam beds the state government had banned cars from a short stretch of beach during the summer months on August 12, 1972. Ms Thierolf led a demonstration in which 200 cars drove two miles through the prohibited section of the beach to protest the ban. Ocean Beach, Washington, August 1972. (Gene Daniels/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Near the town of Wisconsin Dells the Wisconsin River channels through deep, soft sandstone cliffs, cutting rock into fantastic shapes. These natural splendors have given rise to a booming tourist industry. People come in droves, often in campers and trailers. Boat trips, shops, bars, and diversions of every kind vie for patronage in an amusement complex extending 2 or 3 miles beyond the town. Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, September 1973 (Jonas Dovydenas/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

In the spring of 1973 the Mississippi River reached it highest level in more than 150 years. Unprecedented flooding occurred throughout the river basin. Particularly affected were the marsh area below New Orleans and the entire Atchafalaya River basin. Stevensville children in front of a trenched house. Owner dug trench and formed levee to protect house from flood waters. Stevensville, Louisiana, May 1973. (John Messina/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

The painted bus is home. Rifle, Colorado, October 1972. (David Hiser/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Abandoned automobiles and other debris clutter an acid water and oil filled five acre pond. It was cleaned up under EPA supervision to prevent possible contamination of Great Salt Lake and a wildlife refuge nearby.” Near Ogden, Utah, April 1974. (Bruce McAllister/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Auto dump. Escondido, California, April 1972. (Gene Daniels/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency) #

Country’s fuel shortage led to problems for motorists in finding gas as well as paying much more for it, and resulted in theft from cars left unprotected. This father and son, made a sign warning thieves of the possible consequences. Portland, Oregon, April 1974. (David Falconer/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Two girls smoking pot during an outing in Cedar Woods near Leakey, Texas. (Taken with permission.) One of nine pictures near San Antonio. Leakey, Texas, May 1973. (Marc St. Gil/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Exhibit at the first symposium on low pollution power systems development held at the Marriott Motor Inn, Ann Arbor. Vehicles and hardware were assembled at the EPA Ann Arbor Laboratory. Part of the exhibit was held in the motel parking lot. Participants looking over the ESB “Sundancers,” an experimental electric car. Ann Arbor, Michigan, October 1973. (Frank Lodge/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Mr. and Mrs. Berry Howard of Cumberland, Kentucky, and the new truck he just bought with some of his black lung payments. He retired from the mines several years ago. The disease results from coal dust particles filling air sacs in the lungs and causes a progressive shortness of breath. Cumerland, Kentucky, October 1974. (Jack Corn/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

D’aug Days (pronounced dog) is a month long presentation of all the arts at downtown Cincinnati’s immensely popular public plaza, Fountain Square. Dancers from New Media Theater, a Cincinnati group. Cincinnati, Ohio, August 1973. (Tom Hubbard/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

The cook at the Texan Café watches the snow removal crew at work. Rifle, Colorado, January 1973. (David Hiser/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Water cooling towers of the John Amos Power Plant loom over a Poca, WV, home that is on the other side of the Kanawha River. Two of the towers emit great clouds of steam. Poca, West Virginia, August 1973. (Harry Schaefer/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Central expressway leading south into Dallas. Dallas, Texas, May 1972. (Bob Smith/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Movie Theatre. Berlin, New Hampshire, June 1973. (Charles Steinhacker/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Sandra Bruno straightens a pillow in the immaculate living room of her family’s home at 39 Neptune Road. Boston, Massachusetts, July 1973. (Michael Philip Manheim/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

At Bahia Honda State Park, on Bahia Honda Key, Florida. Bahia Honda Key, Florida, June 1973. (Flip Schulke/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Midtown traffic congestion and jaywalking pedestrians. New York, New York, April 1973. (Dan McCoy/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#

Hitchhiker with his dog, ‘Tripper,’ on U.S. 66. U.S. 66 crosses the Colorado River at Topock. Yuma County, Arizona, May 1972. (Charles O’Rear/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency)#



 
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