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See Inside Basquiat's Childhood Home and Other Houses in 1970s Brooklyn

By Aidan Gardiner | January 16, 2015 4:30pm | Updated on January 16, 2015 4:49pm
 Dinanda Nooney shot more than 150 homes in areas like Park Slope, Gravesend and Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Photos Show Life in the 70s
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BROOKLYN — It's home sweet home, in the disco era.

An online gallery from the New York Public Library provides a rare look into more than 150 Brooklyn homes as they were in the late 1970s including a local celebrity biker's domain, a live-in stained-glass studio and the childhood home of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Photographer Dinanda Nooney trekked through Brooklyn from January 1978 to April 1979 photographing people where they lived and then asking them to suggest another subject, the library said.

The homes she shot cut across race and class, some featuring ornate woodwork and large stained-glass windows while others were comparatively modest, decorated instead with shag carpet and striped sofas.

Some of Nooney's subjects look surprisingly modern, like Barbara Rothenberg and Joe Roifer, whose homes don't seem that removed from the hip borough of today.

Nooney's project also introduced her to some of the borough's notable characters of the time.

On March 4, she visited the Park Slope home of Nora Fitzpatrick and Gerard Basquiat and photographed them beside their two daughters on a patterned sofa. Their 18-year-old son Jean-Michel would go on to become a celebrated pop artist, but was absent at the time.

Then just more than a month later, she visited the Clinton Hill home of Johnny Redd, a former policeman who ran both plumbing and private investigator businesses and could frequently be spotted around town on his bejeweled motorcycle, according to a 1986 New Yorker profile

She even swung by the office of the Pratt Institute's chief engineer, Conrad Milster, who still works there, 57 years after his first day on the job. Milster has been a longtime steam whistle collector and would sound them on campus every New Year's, but that tradition ended in 2015, the Daily News reported.

The gallery includes other treasures like a woman showcasing her large doll collection, a 40th wedding anniversary celebration in Bedford-Stuyvesant and a Clinton Hill woman swinging from a pole in her home

The photographs, a gift from Nooney in 1995, were meant to be showcased in the library's exhibit "Public Eye: 175 Years of Sharing Photography." That show was closed on Friday for three months after a piece of the gallery's wooden ceiling fell.

The library plotted Nooney's travels through Brooklyn in a map, below: