MCNY Blog: New York Stories

Iconic photos of a changing city, and commentary on our Collections & Exhibitions from the crew at MCNY.org

The New York City Marathon: The Great Race

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Gary Muhrcke at the finish line of the New York Marathon, 1970. Unidentified Photographer. (NYC Parks Archive)

The New York City Marathon began humbly in 1970, with 127 participants running laps around Park Drive in Central Park. On that day a total of only 55 runners crossed the finish line – Gary Muhrcke was the winner with a time of 2:31:38.

In 1976 city auditor George Spitz conceived an idea for a five borough Marathon tracking from Staten Island through the outer boroughs and ending in Central Park. With the backing of Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton they managed to convince Mayor Abraham Beame and race director Fred Lebow. In the end, the race was a huge success. Without looking back the New York Marathon grew into the world’s largest marathon.

NYC Mayor Abe Beame, Manhattan Boro President Percy Sutton and NYRR President Fred Lebow with NYC Proclamation for the inaugural 5 Boro NewYork City Marathon in October 1976.

NYC Mayor Abe Beame, Manhattan Boro President Percy Sutton and NYRR President Fred Lebow with NYC Proclamation for the inaugural 5 Boro NewYork City Marathon in October 1976. Photograph by Paul J. Sutton. (Duomo/PCN Photography)

Today the Marathon has more than 50,000 entrants from around the globe and more than one million fans lining the city’s streets from Staten Island to the Bronx. The marathon garners global attention, not only as a test of athletic endurance, but also as an inspiring example of civic pride and community spirit.

On October 20, 2015 the City Museum opens The New York City Marathon: The Great Race, an exhibition that explores the history of this road running institution and features photographs by both amateur and professional photographers who responded to a call for images that would reflect the diverse facets of the marathon.

New York City Marathon, November 4, 2014. Photograph by Andrew Hinderaker

Throughout the spring and summer of 2015 the Museum received several thousand entries from professionals who have covered the Marathon for media outlets as well as amateurs who have participated in the race, cheered on a friend or loved one, or simply admired the event. After an arduous process, a jury selected 120 photographs, which will be hung in a manner that mirrors the route through the city.

The following images are a sneak peek of some of the contemporary photographs that collectively capture the experience of “Marathon Sunday” in the city and will be on view at the City Museum beginning October 20, 2015.

Just getting to the Marathon starting location in Staten Island and waiting for the start is an experience.

Runners loading into buses to the starting line, 2014. Photograph by Drew Levine (New York Road Runners)

Getting ready and staying warm in the Open Zone at Fort Wadsworth.

Getting ready and staying warm in the Open Zone at Fort Wadsworth, 2014. Photograph by Drew Levine (New York Road Runners)

The first two miles could be considered the most breathtakingly photogenic as the runners leave Staten Island and cross the Verrazano Bridge.

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Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Staten Island, 1998. Photograph by Jeffrey Aaronson

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Aerial view of the New York City Marathon,2004. Photograph by Vincent Laforet (The New York Times)

Through the cheering throngs of Brooklyn…..

Photo’s of runners, volunteers, costumes, race, general course, TFK, charity, TCS from NYRR 2014 NYC Marathon.

Touch for Power, Fort Greene, Brooklyn, 2104. Photograph by Lou Bopp (New York Road Runners)

Thousands of runners pass through the borough of Brooklyn during the 40th ING New York City Marathon on November 1, 2009. Photo: Ramin Talaie talaie@yahoo.com 917.412.5538 www.RaminTalaie.com

New York Marathon Runners in Brooklyn, 2009. Photograph by Ramin Talaie

Powering through Long Island City and over the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge…

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44th Drive, Queens, 2014, Photograph by David Gardiner. (New York Road Runners)

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Pulaski Bridge, 2013. Photograph by Dina Litovsky

Up first Avenue and into the Bronx….

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1st Avenue, Manhattan, 2009. Photograph by Paul J. Sutton. (Duomo/PCN Photography)

TCS New York City Marathon 2014

Mott Haven, Bronx, 2014. Photograph by Mark Bernal

And finally to the home stretch!

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Manhattan, 2014. Photography by Edward Bae

Central Park, Manhattan, 2013. Photograph by Da Ping Luo

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Finish Line, Central Park, Manhattan, 2009. Photograph by Jorg Badura

–Sean Corcoran, Curator of Prints and Photographs, Museum of the City of New York

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This entry was posted on October 6, 2015 by in Exhibitions and tagged , , .

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