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Travel Back to UPPER STATE STREET 1978 at City Gallery in August

A Photography Exhibit and Book Signing with Karen Klugman


The 70 photographs by Karen Klugman on display at New Haven’s City Gallery capture the funky Old Country atmosphere of Upper State Street in 1978 when most of the businesses were antique stores and self-described junk shops. Among the peeling paint, cracked walls, and piles of merchandise, the shop keepers would often hang out on chairs on the sidewalk and were always game for a friendly chat. For the exhibit UPPER STATE STREET 1978: AT THE HEIGHT OF ITS DECLINE, Klugman has recreated a bit of this flea market vibe by presenting differently-sized clusters of images, verbatim quotes by people in the photos, a map matching photographs to locations, and a scavenger hunt for kids. Like the antique stores of old, the show offers hidden delights for everyone. It will be on display from August 5 - August 21, with an Opening Reception & Book Signing on Friday, August 5 from 4pm – 7pm.


In the long and illustrious history of State Street, the late 1970s would have the distinction of being the height of its decline. Only six years after Klugman documented the neighborhood,  the people and places that she photographed would all be gone. The antique shops were replaced by a mix of vibrant businesses, and the new neighborhood was honored by the National Registry of Historic Places.


At the gallery, visitors can purchase Upper State Street, New Haven: At the Height of Its Decline, a book containing the photographs, quotes from shop owners in 1978, and Klugman’s essay about the enduring charm of State Street throughout its history. The photographs of Upper State Street are in the collection of the New Haven Museum and the book is in the collection at the Whitney Library.


The State Street project, Karen Klugman’s initial foray into street photography, evolved into a passion for learning about places by hanging out with people, listening, and taking pictures. Her subsequent street photography was supported by two Connecticut Artist Grants and is represented in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, Wesleyan University, and the Dansforth Museum. Klugman taught photography at Creative Arts Workshop, the Wesleyan Liberal Studies Program, Choate School and was Chair of the Art Department at Hopkins School. She photographed for and co-authored two cultural studies books: Inside the Mouse: Work and Play in Disney World and Strip Cultures: America in Las Vegas and produced the exposé of children’s toys, “A Bad Hair Day for G.I. Joe.” Klugman lives in the woods in Guilford and, taking a break from street photography during the pandemic, now hosts a nature blog.


UPPER STATE STREET 1978: AT THE HEIGHT OF ITS DECLINE is free and open to the public, and runs August 5 - August 21, with an Opening Reception & Book Signing on Friday, August 5 from 4pm – 7pm. Copies of Upper State Street, New Haven: At the Height of Its Decline (8.5 x 11 hardcover, 76 pages, black and white photos) may be purchased at the gallery during the exhibit for $40 ($60 afterwards). City Gallery is located at 994 State Street, New Haven, CT 06511. Gallery hours are Friday - Sunday, 1 p.m. - 4 p.m., or by appointment. City Gallery follows New Haven City’s mask mandate policy. For further information please contact City Gallery,,

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