, Fri, September 15, 2017
The East Village in the 1980s
From Broadway to Bowery, 1980s New York City was a very different place compared to today’s manicured metropolis. Courtesy of Maps Mania, the 80s.NYC street map picks up where the Finance Department of New York City left off. In the mid ‘80s the bureau photographed every single building in the five boroughs in order to accurately assess building taxes and estimate property taxes. Brandon Liu and Jeremy Lechtzin have finessed this trove of photographic information into a nifty map that allows users to travel the city’s streets in the bad old 1980s with a map-based street view for an easy-to-browse glimpse of the streetscape 30 years ago. You can browse by location by clicking anywhere on the map for vintage street views on that spot, or type in an address. For more context there are curated “stories” that provide historical background where it’s available (and interesting).
Check out the map
6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, we share a set of vintage photos documenting the NYC subway in 1981. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
Grim, gritty, grimy–these are just a few of the adjectives one could use to describe New York City in the 1980s. Homicide rates were at near-record highs, the crack epidemic had exploded, the police force had dwindled after the recession, and government mismanagement left the city on the brink of bankruptcy. At the time, a 22-year-old photographer from Florida named Christopher Morris was interning at the photo agency Black Star. According to TIME, he saw the graffiti-covered subway, dark, dank, and dangerous, as a battleground that “proved an opportunity to work on something of a domestic front line.” Now an award-winning photojournalist, Morris recently rediscovered this set of shots that he took over six months in 1981, during which time he devoted himself to this unique, seedy underworld.
See his photo series ahead
From the archives of ’80s NYC nightlife videographer Nelson Sullivan comes this summertime classic video. Young Village Voice writer Michael Musto, artist Albert Crudo, and photographer Liz Lizard with her two kids in tow join Sullivan on the trip to Coney Island from Manhattan on a very different subway than we’re used to today (h/t acapuck via Reddit). Their destination, too, won’t look the least bit familiar to anyone who’s visited the aforementioned beach destination in recent years, though there are many among us who fondly remember the beautiful decay of the boardwalk environs and the thrill of its garish attractions in the pre-MCU, pre Keyspan days.
We never tire of checking out the graffiti-covered cars and fellow riders who probably only look more menacing. And at some moments if you don’t look too hard, everything appears pretty much the same: The noise, the heat, the underground grit–and the fact that when it comes to fashion, everything a few decades old looks cool and new again.
Take a day trip to the ’80s
Feeling nostalgic for 1980s New York? Artist Rick Liss‘ short film “N.Y.C. (No York City)” transports you back to the city’s grittier days. He uses stop motion to move you through the city “at the speed of blood,” a pace that doesn’t seem too different from the city’s normal flow. But don’t expect the typical tourist attractions on this journey. “No York City” features graffiti, street fights, and lots of crowds, all set to Laurie Anderson’s “For Electronic Dogs.”
Watch the video here