A Manhattanite by birth, Dinanda Nooney’s first photographic project (1974-76) was to document the entire length of the West Side Highway, which had partially collapsed in 1973 and was demolished beginning in 1977. The Getty Center acquired Nooney’s West Side archive, including negatives, prints, notes, and newspaper clippings.
Her second project, the documentation of Brooklyn, was much larger in scope. Nooney initially became interested in the borough in 1976, while working as a volunteer for George McGovern’s presidential campaign. Two years later, she used the connections she had made in order to gain access to rooftops and other vantage points for a survey of the borough. She soon became more interested in the people she met and began photographing families in their homes. Many of these sitters then recommended other potentially willing subjects.
Working almost daily from January 1978 to April 1979, she crisscrossed the borough, documenting the broad ethnic and economic range of Brooklyn’s residents. The portraits that emerge are striking in their attention to the details of architecture and décor, which reveal just as much about the subjects as how they choose to pose themselves for Nooney’s camera. This project was the subject of an exhibition, At Home in Brooklyn, at the Long Island Historical Society in 1985.