Van Nuys Boulevard 1972

Images by Richard ‘Rick Mack’ McCloskey

This is a wonderful collection of nostalgic photographic images of American youth and automobile culture captured at its high point during the summer of 1972 on Van Nuys Boulevard. These are all candid images of the spontaneous use of the public space by young people when ‘car cruising’ was so ubiquitous across the USA.

With these images, I pointed my camera at not just the very custom automobiles, but more importantly, to record to the best of my ability, the myriad of people who I found along the boulevard every Wednesday evening. Also, a substantial effort was made to portray the background settings, including the lights, the signs, the businesses and the ongoing drama prevalent at the time. For so many young people, and for almost three generations, this was Southern California nightlife at its most vibrant.


rick mccloskey; van nuys boulevard 1972; 1968 Mustang GT; suntans; beautiful people; classic cars

‘California Dream’ – VN Blvd.-001-31

1968 Mustang GT with three beautiful, and barefoot, young people, with the two California girls in white ‘short shorts,’ which were so popular at the time. Classic car scene along Van Nuys Boulevard, 1972. This image is my most popular photograph from the Van Nuys series. This iconic picture makes a complete statement about the California night scene along the boulevard.

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rick mccloskey; van nuys boulevard 1972; 1941 chevy; 1957 chevy truck with camper; Fox theater

‘Camper Campaign’ – VN Blvd.-091-11

A friendly race between a custom 1941 Chevy and a 1957 Chevy truck with a camper. This scene is taking place in front of the brightly lit FOX Theater in downtown Van Nuys. So much chrome, so many very cool, and very custom cars of all years. Cruising Van Nuys Boulevard was a wonderful experience for so many young people.

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rick mccloskey; van nuys boulevard 1972; capri movie theater; The Godfather; classic cars

‘The Capri Theater’ – VN Blvd.-039-19

Classic hometown theater in downtown Van Nuys. At one time there were several of these movie houses within a three-block area. I think only one of them may still be there today. This week—and probably for several weeks running, ‘The Godfather’ is playing. Beautiful light emanating from the marquee

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