Though the late photojournalist and Village Voice staffer Fred W. McDarrah was, according to his New York Times obit, a “self-described square,” he’s best known for photographing icons of the counterculture in the 1960s—both the people that made the scene what it was, and their haunts throughout Greenwich Village and beyond. His famous subjects are exactly the people you’d expect: Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, and other iconoclasts of the era.
And thanks to the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation, some of McDarrah’s images of that hip, heady time period are now searchable on the organization’s archive of vintage photos. The 10 images that are now available span nearly two decades, and offer a glimpse at the goings-on in the Village when it was still known as a bohemian enclave.
The photo above of MacDougal Street, for instance, was taken in the summer of 1966, the year that avant-rock band the Fugs was in residence at the Player’s Theater, and a pre-fame Jimi Hendrix played a few shows at Cafe Wha?. McDarrah also photographed Kettle of Fish, the White Horse Tavern, Washington Square Park, and more of the neighborhood’s famed hangouts.
In another photo from the archive, McDarrah captured Bob Dylan right after he finished recording Bringing It All Back Home, the seminal 1965 album that Rolling Stone called “the cultural equivalent of a nuclear bomb.” It was Dylan’s first experimentation with electric guitar, and a leap forward lyrically for the musician. In McDarrah’s photo, taken in January of that year, the songwriter is perched on a bench in Sheridan Square, looking pensive (as per usual)—though whether he knows that he’s about to change rock & roll is up for debate.
More of McDarrah’s photos are available through GVSHP’s photo archive, and can also be purchased as prints. For those who want to dive even deeper into the photographer’s legacy, check out Save the Village tours, a series of walking tours inspired by McDarrah’s extensive photo archive. They traverse well-trod ground through his lens, with different jaunts covering the East Village, the artists of the period, the Beats, and more.
- Fred W. McDarrah Collection [GVSHP]
- GVSHP Photo Archive [Official]
- Save the Village Tours [Official]