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30 Pictures That Capture 1970s America's True Colors

The Living Room, Seventies Style

The seventies. Orange formica, avocado shag carpet and macrame accessories. Out-of-control inflation and gasoline shortage. Smoking cigarettes at the office and on packed airplanes. Equal opportunity afros. Pollution and unregulated environmental hazards. Considering that the decade was rife with situations that would now be regarded as dangerous or life threatening, it's a wonder that anyone lived though it.

These photos are from the Documerica project, a six-year-long effort led by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA enlisted photographers nationwide to interpret environmental issues in the context of 1970s culture. See the full collection here. 

Children play in the yard of a house in Rushton, Washington, 1972 as the Tacoma smelter stack in the background showers the area with arsenic and lead residue.
Image: Gene Daniels/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency

Gas stations abandoned during the fuel crisis in winter of 1973-74.
Image: David Falconer/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency

Abandoned cars and other debris fill an acid water and oil-filled, five-acre pond, 1974. It was cleaned up under EPA supervision to prevent possible contamination of Great Salt Lake and a nearby wildlife refuge.
Image: Bruce McAllister/National Archives/Records of the Environmental Protection Agency


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