Inside a Real 1970s "Hotel California"

Inside a Real 1970s

I love the picture. I am a homosexual. Maybe if I send one of the pictures you gave to me Jim, to my nephew, he will understand how hard his uncle is struggling.

Ferdinand Monette

“I have the great privilege of being both witness and storyteller. Intimacy, trust and intuition guide my work,” said Jim Goldberg, a photographer who spent several years of his life, between 1977 and 1985, knocking on the doors of a welfare hotel in San Francisco. Gaining the trust of its residents, a mix of hopeful and desperate souls, Jim took their portraits and then asked his subjects to tell him what they saw in the portraits. These open letters scribbled on the borders of the photographs read like short poems on the nature of American dreams, myths, hope and happiness. They’re part of a larger series called “Rich and Poor”, in which Goldberg documents both the struggling residents of a down-at-heel hotel as well as those living in some of San Francisco’s wealthiest neighbourhoods, capturing the hope and heartbreak on both sides of America’s social divide. Here is a selection from the less privileged side; a look through the window of a veritable “Hotel California”, where the haunting emotions of being trapped in misfortune and yet filled with hope, are found behind every door.

Inside a Real 1970s

I keep thinking where we went wrong. We have no one to talk to now, however, I will not allow this loneliness to destroy me – I STILL HAVE MY DREAMS. I would like an elegant home, a loving husband and the wealth I am used to.

Countess Viviana de Blonville

Inside a Real 1970s

I am a 29 year old female who loves plants and animals who came to San Francisco from a quiet town in Oregon 3 and a half years ago. I DON’T LIKE IT HERE! The city has made me dislike myself now I get depressed easily, which makes me sleep a lot and watch a lot of horror movies. I guess the picture shoes me in a 50-50 mood and in a simple way of living. NO MONEY MEANS LIVING IN THE PITS.

Anne Wiliams

Inside a Real 1970s

I love David. But he is to(o) fragile for a rough father like me

Larry J Benbo

Inside a Real 1970s

Me and Bobby been together for two weeks and we’re still happy

Susie in 54

Inside a Real 1970s

This picture says that we are a very emotional & tight family, like the three musketteers. Poverty sucks, but it brings us closer together.

Linda Benko

Inside a Real 1970s

Now I see a way out to a decent future. I’m tired of this shit, drugs and pimping and all that stuff. Maybe now I have the courage to do something–anything. I don’t know, we will see. Jim Thanks. (P.S.) I love you

Harold Graham

Inside a Real 1970s

I am going to build an empire.

Clyde Norbert

Inside a Real 1970s

Its kind of stinky living in this hotel I don’t have nothing only $10 I keep waiting for someone to come in my door and give me money but nobody ever will.

Joe Peterson

Inside a Real 1970s
Direct capture

George and I have been married 4 1/2 years we are an average couple, he is too babyish at times, some times our personalities clash. but most of the time we get along.

Mrs. Bradzinski

I feel like I depend on Gloria to take care of me that makes me very happy.

George Bradzinski

Inside a Real 1970s

To Jim. My life is personal, but I will tell you one thing, I’m too fat.

Samuel T. Davis

Jim Goldberg’s book Rich and Poor was first published in 1985 and later selected as one of the greatest photobooks of the 20th century. Currently out of print, vintage collector copies of the book can be found on Amazon and a wider selection of the photographs from his Rich and Poor project can be found on Magnum Photos.