There is nothing artisanal, twee or ironic about real-deal New York City dive bars like the Subway Inn. Its walls and tables absorbed decades of smoke, beer and heaven knows what else as it offered an after-work haven to construction workers, sales clerks and executives. And like all things that gave this city character, it fell victim to a hot real estate market.

Timothy Fadek, who used to go to the bar, on East 60th Street and Lexington Avenue, felt a twinge of melancholy when he learned it was to close last December and be replaced by — what else? — condos. He set about to chronicle the last days of the place that had been a regular stop on his way home from the School of Visual Arts in the late 1990s.

“This is representative of everything that depresses me about New York City,” Mr. Fadek said. “The loss of Times Square, all the great bars, CBGB’s, independent diners. All gone and replaced by chains.”

What was not to like about the bar? When he first started going, Mr. Fadek and a friend drank free, because the bartender refused to take a cent from them.

“He didn’t know we were photography students,” Mr. Fadek said. “He thought we were cops.”

That changed soon enough. What did not, for a while, was the clientele: a cross section of the city that got together and got along. The place had a bouncer, but he was about as busy as the Maytag repairman.

Photo
Steve Glick, a security guard, dancing at the original bar with Lina Moreno, a professional dancer from Bogotá, Colombia.
Steve Glick, a security guard, dancing at the original bar with Lina Moreno, a professional dancer from Bogotá, Colombia.Credit Timothy Fadek

On the other hand, Mr. Fadek was quite busy when he returned to photograph the bar and its patrons. His work was homage of sorts to both Weegee — using on-camera flash — and Anders Petersen, who photographed the addled habitués of the Cafe Lehmitz in Hamburg in the 1960s.

“He was a young 18-year-old photography student dating a German prostitute who hung out in the cafe,” said Mr. Fadek, who is represented by Redux Pictures. “He traveled to Hamburg to visit her on his breaks from school. He would sleep in the bar in the back room.”

Granted, Mr. Fadek has other priorities these days.

“I don’t hang out in bars anymore,” he said. “Now that I’m married I have better things to do with my time.”

But he did go back to the Subway Inn when he learned its end was near. After a long-term lease ended, the bar’s owner was given a month-to-month lease. Last December, after 77 years at its original location, the bar moved two blocks east. It kept the name and the décor.

“Part of the charm of any of these places is the grease and old smoke you can’t get rid of,” Mr.