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© 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Bettina Cirone Photographs and Papers
 PR 323

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Marybeth Kavanagh

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 15, 2017 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents Note

This collection consists of photographs, slides, negatives, and ephemera created and collected by New York City photographer Bettina Cirone. Her work documents the cityscape, street life, and nightlife of New York City in the 1970s, '80s and '90s.

The collection is arranged into two series: Series I:Manhattan photographs and Series II:Celebrity photographs and ephemera. Some slides and photographs are labeled, but many are not.

Series I: Manhattan photographs, contains mainly color slides, as well as some 4x6 color prints and a few negatives. Images include aerial and skyline views of Manhattan; views of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty; photos of neighborhoods and buildings in Lower Manhattan, including Battery Park, Chinatown, City Hall, the Tweed Court House, the Custom House, and Brooklyn Bridge. There are many images of the World Trade Center, including a tapestry exhibit held there in 1973. Trinity Church is a particular focus, with many exterior and interior views. In addition,there are photos documenting the filming of the movie  The Great Gatsby in Trinity churchyard, as well as an American Indian Songfest held at Trinity, both in 1973. Of special note are a 1973 image labeled Gay Liberation Protest at City Hall, photos of Mayor John Lindsay, and views of flea markets and street peddlers.

Also included in this series are images of midtown Manhattan and above, including Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Times Square, Empire State Building, United Nations. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades in the 1980s and 1990s are well documented, as Cirone had an excellent vantage point from her apartment window. There are also images of the Columbus Day parade, the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village, Easter Sunday on Fifth Ave, and people in Hawaiian dress in Central Park. In addition, there are images of people in costumes, including some with wildly decorative manicures, that are not identified with a particular event or occasion. Also of note are photos of window washers on the outside of a skyscraper, and of the small Sniffen Court historic district.

This series also contains photos, correspondence, and ephemera related to an exhibit about the World Trade Center after Sept. 11, 2001. WTC: Monument was organized by the Skyscraper Museum and held at the N-YHS in 2002, and Cirone contributed some of her photographs to the exhibit.

Series II: Celebrity photographs and ephemera consists of photographs and ephemera featuring artists, celebrities and scenes from NYC nightlife. Much of this material is focused on Peter Max, an American artist known for his brightly-colored Pop Art prints and paintings. Bettina Cirone frequently worked with Max, photographing him in his studio and at events, and these photos were often published in newspaper and magazine pieces. In addition to these photos, the series includes clippings and press releases about Max and his work, as well as printed matter featuring Max's designs. Also included in this series is correspondence between Cirone and Peter Max's office about payment and barter agreements between the two.

This series also contains a number of images of actress Elizabeth Taylor speaking at amfAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) events, promoting her perfume, and on stage in the plays The Little Foxes(1981), and  Private Lives (1983) with Richard Burton. There are also slides of Taylor with Senator John Warner, Van Johnson, Mike Nichols, NYC Mayor Ed Koch, Leo Castelli, Malcolm Forbes, and Nelson Rockefeller. Additionally, there are individual slides of Gloria Steinem, Simon and Garfunkel in Central Park, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

Cirone often took photos at the legendary nightclub Studio 54, which opened in 1977. This series includes Cirone's images of celebrities and events at Studio 54 including singers Elton John and Liza Minelli, designers Halston and Diane Von Furstenberg, artist Andy Warhol, writers Tennesee Williams and Truman Capote, actresses Chita Rivera, Farrah Fawcett, Ali McGraw, and Bianca Jagger, media executives Bob Evans and Barry Diller, models Lauren Hutton, Christie Brinkley, and Marisa Berenson, dancer Martha Graham, and Steve Rubell,the owner of Studio 54. In addition, there are images of drag queens and people in costume at Studio 54, including an image of Warhol with two women dressed as the cartoon characters She-ra and Catra. This series also includes ephemera such as invitations to events at Studio 54, a VIP pass, and clippings about the nightclub.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged into two series:

Series I: Manhattan photographs

Series II: Celebrity photographs and ephemera

Within each series, material is filed by subject.