Although Times Square has transformed into a commercial beast filled to the brim with advertising, its very sordid and seedy past is certainly not lost on us. One man who found himself in the midst of the area when it was considered the worst block in town was Sheldon Nadelman.
From 1972 to 1980, Nadelman worked at Terminal Bar—the city’s “roughest bar” by many accounts—directly across from the Port Authority. Between pouring drinks, Nadelman found himself snapping photos of the folks who passed through. Over his decade-long stint, he accumulated a collection of more than 1,500 photos. His subjects were diverse ranging from actors to cooks to business people to tourists to, of course, the pimps and prostitutes that roamed the surrounding streets.
After collecting dust in a drawer for thirty years, Nadelman’s photos found the light once again when his son, Stefan Nadelman, digitized his negatives, turning the images into an award-winning documentary. Called “Terminal Bar” the 22-minute film delves into Sheldon Nadelman’s archive of photos complemented by commentary from the man himself.
“In the beginning it was just the regulars and they were willing and able to be photographed,” Nadelman said once in an interview. “Then there were just faces that came in and I knew I wouldn’t see them again. But they looked interesting. I’d say 90 percent of the people were willing to be photographed.” Though most would be quick to write off the folks who came to the bar as destitute, Nadelman knew that there was more to the story, and that Terminal was a refuge for those who had fallen on rough times. Nadleman worked at the bar getting to know his patrons until 1982, when it closed.
The documentary won the Sundance Jury Prize in 2003, and the images were eventually made into a book of the same name. Stefan, however, hasn’t ended the project just yet, and is now working on a series of shorts, such as the one featured above.
You can watch Terminal Bar here:
Images courtesy of the Princeton Architectural Press and Sheldon Nadelman
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Tags : Times Square
Neighborhoods : Times Square