We Can't Stop Staring at These Vintage Photos of an Empty New York City

Have you ever seen such calm and lifeless streets in New York City?

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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New York City is known for many things, and vast unpopulated streets is definitely not one of them. The "City That Never Sleeps" is always crawling with people, even in the middle of a tropical storm, so to see photos of empty alleyways and avenues is strange and extremely rare.

Photographer Duane Michals discovered the work of 19th century French photographer Eugene Atget in the mid 1960s and was inspired to create the "Empty New York" series. Michals explored the city on early Sunday mornings in 1964 and found that the hectic city was a ghost town in certain areas. "Everywhere seemed a stage set," he said in a press release for the first exhibition of the photos this past April at DC Moore Gallery. "Everything was theatre; even the most ordinary event was an act in the drama of my little life."

It would be virtually impossible to capture these photos in 2014 New York City. Not only are the streets active 24 hours a day, but shop windows have become virtually extinct, shielded from the mean streets with graffiti covered metal grates. Finding scenes like the ones in Michals images would take a ridiculously long time and lots of Metrocard swipes (not to mention the time it would take to Photoshop the homeless people and mountains of garbage out of the photo). Check out a few of the awesome images above, and head to the artist's page at DC Moore Gallery for more.

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