New York City in the 1980s

From Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York blog:

Monday, July 31, 2017

Before We Got Starfucked

Jen Fisher runs a well-loved book table on the sidewalk at St. Mark’s and Avenue A. Tomorrow, the table will become a memorial exhibit called “Before we got Starfucked: A Memorial for the Lower East Side before it became the East Village.”

Jen and the resident artist Ana Marton describe it as:

“A personal archive of a LES resident from the late 80s to early 90s of photographs, newspaper cuts, flyers and B&W Xerox books will be displayed on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 from 530-8PM outside, on the corner of Ave A and St. Mark’s Place, where the bookstall usually is.

The archive is based on 80s and 90s events such as The Tent City in Tompkins Square Park, the annual Stations of the Cross, Father George Kuhn, and the fight against gentrification as it was recorded and put together by a resident of the Lower East Side. Seen in the light of today’s ongoing destruction of our neighborhood, we believe that this archive has acquired historical relevance as a record of the Lower East Side and the life it once contained.”

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From Gothamist:

A Look At 1980s NYC Through The Lens Of A Teenager

Through the magical and bittersweet filter of nostalgia, it’s possible to look back at photos of 1980s New York City—a decade that followed one of the toughest in the city’s history—and think: ah, the good ol’ days. Recent transplants will say it, speaking some pseudo-knowledge and pointing to the dearth of combination Chase Bank-Duane Reades on the streets back then. But those who lived it know exactly what they miss.

Native Ken Stein has just shared some of his old photos from the decade with us, taken from 1980 through 1989. Stein was a teenager when he took most of these, and tells us, “The city was different back then. I think it was quieter, the street lights were darker, there was more room to walk and more places to wander—often everything seemed new and the different areas of the city were just that; different.”

1983. (Photo by Ken Stein)

Stein continued:

Most of those images were shot in 1982 and 83. I was 17 and 18 year old and was the staff photographer for a weekly community newspaper in The Bronx.These images are part of a larger collection that were shot on slide film—a rare luxury for me because it was far more expensive than the black & white I could get and develop for free. Hugh Bell, the famous jazz era and commercial photographer who died after Sandy knocked out the electricity in lower Manhattan, was a huge influence on me.

Taking pictures was always thrilling and I loved the way it made me feel. It felt at times I was the only one taking pictures—I think that’s why people let me take their photos. It was a rare occurrence and I was bold as fuck back then.

Click through for a look, and you can check out a few more on his Flickr page.

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from MCNY.com, “Welcome To Fear City” screening of short films from the 1970s-80s in NYC

…”Savor this 16mm snapshot of the period, featuring four rarely-screened short films from the period. The films will be introduced by Will Hermes, senior critic for Rolling Stone, frequent contributor to NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and author of Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever, who is currently writing a biography of Lou Reed.

Sodom and Gomorrah, New York, 10036
Rudy Burckhardt, 1976, 6.25 min 
At the age of 62, in the year of Travis Bickle, one of New York’s great photographic chroniclers, turned his slyly responsive camera-eye on the city’s booming sex industry at 8th avenue and 42nd street. The result, like all Burckhardt’s work, is a lyrical impression of a time and place.

A Sense of Pride: Hamilton Heights
Monica J. Freeman, 1977, 15 min
Monica J. Freeman’s serene portrait of Hamilton Heights at the peak of its brownstone revival is a testament to the cohesion and spirit of an African-American middle class fighting hard for its place in a depressed city, and, in the process, returning a grand old neighborhood to its rightful splendor.

Punking Out
Maggi Carson, Juliusz Kossakowski & Ric Shore, 1978, 23 min
In 1977, three NYU film students ventured into the bowels of CBGB, returning with this snapshot of the venue in full flower. Intercutting brief glimpses of the Ramones, Dead Boys, and the Voidoids doing their worst, and disarmingly raw, unguarded interviews with band members and patrons alike, this may be the definitive punk document.

Electric Boogie
Tana Ross & Freke Vuijst, 1983, 34 min
Centered around a group of four black and Puerto Rican youths dubbed the Electric Boogie Boys, this short documentary from a pair of European filmmakers is a seminal portrait of the South Bronx break dancing scene.

Includes Museum admission and complimentary beer provided by Sixpoint Brewery.

Smile, It’s Your Close Up, our nonfiction film series co-programmed with Jessica Green and Edo Choi of the Maysles Documentary Center, zooms in on key moments, individuals, and communities to pose the question: “What makes New York New York?” Each program includes an introduction or conversation with filmmakers or other notable guests.

$15 for adults | $12 for seniors, students & educators (with ID) | $10 for Museum and Maysles Documentary Center members.


Attention, Members, to receive your discount, click on the “Buy Tickets” button above, then sign in to your account on the ticketing page.

Groups of 10 or more get discounts and priority seating, email or call us at programs@mcny.org or 917-492-3395.

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From a facebook posting by Michael Cala:
“I’m very pleased, as a first-time applicant, to announce that I was just awarded a sizable grant from Staten Island Arts to mount an exhibition of my vintage Coney Island photographs (1970-1980). The exhibition will hopefully take place some time in mid-2017. Got some great people on board to help with printing and mounting. And the initial exhibit will be held at the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum.” …

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Thursday, September 22, 2016, 6:30 p.m.

Program Locations:

Fully accessible to wheelchairs
First come, first served

 This illustrated lecture explores the transition of the district from industrial space to artists’ enclave to affluent residential area, focusing on the legacy of urban renewal in and around SoHo and the growth of artist-led redevelopment.

Events at The New York Public Library may be photographed or recorded. By attending these events, you consent to the use of your image and voice by the Library for all purposes.

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Friday, September 16 at 6:00 PM8:00 PM in EDT
Hosted by Howl Happening
  • 6 E 1st St, New York, New York 10003
  • ticket
    Tickets Available
    Opening ReceptionFriday, September 16 – Sunday, October 9, 2016

    Howl! Happening: An Arturo Vega Project is pleased to shine a light on another important source of East Village social and cultural history: The East Village Eye. A monthly magazine published from 1979 through 1987, The East Village Eye focused on popular and avant-garde culture, politics and other issues relevant to the East Village and environs. Self-styled as “a community in print,” the magazine is noted for its groundbreaking coverage of the emerging punk, new wave and hip hop music scenes of the time, as well as the influential art, literature, film and performance worlds of the era.

    The East Village Eye Show will feature covers, centerfolds, interior pages, ephemera and photographic prints, as well as key artwork from the era. The show draws from the nearly 4,000 pages, 3,000 photographs, sets of original copies and attendant materials that constitute The East Village Eye Archive, dubbed “the King Tut’s tomb of downtown New York.”

    Artist and Colab co-founder Christof Kohlhofer was the first art director of the Eye. Kohlhofer, who studied with Joseph Beuys, introduced Abrams to the influential artists who were a part of the flourishing EV art scene. “I credit Christof with steering the Eye towards art, but also for injecting a Beuys-like approach. Basically doing whatever was necessary at the time,” says Abrams in the 2014 Hyperallergic article The East Village Eye: Where Art, Hip Hop, and Punk Collided.

    As a result, the magazine featured art world luminaries including David Wojnarowicz, Richard Hell, Cookie Mueller, Lucy Lippard, and Rene Ricard. The magazine’s covers read like a who’s who of cultural influencers like Patti Astor, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Vito Acconci; emerging artists such as Sue Coe, Barbara Kruger and Kiki Smith; as well as musicians like Patti Smith, Run DMC, Annie Lennox, and the Beastie Boys.

    Richard Hell explained how he and other New Yorkers, and not English kids, “invented” punk; Cookie Mueller dished out bold and often hilarious health advice; Glenn O’Brien, the leading avant-pop writer and media figure, expounded on the New York Yankees; and the aforementioned David Wojnarowicz wrote about his harrowing past and present as a street hustler and later as an artist living with HIV.

    Creative collaboration was the hallmark of the magazine’s legacy. “The mix of fashion, music, art, politics, comics etc., the way it was presented by the Eye, the constant changing impact through all those different people who worked on the paper, and Leonard’s attitude not to interfere with that, made it a very lively subject,” says Kohlhofer in the Hyperallergic article.

    Over a period of eight years, the magazine chronicled the spectacular rise and eventual implosion of the East Village art scene. The Eye’s coverage of the arts and music scenes helped illuminate the psychosocial conflicts running through EV/LES culture, NYC, and beyond.

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From DNA.info.com: Keith Haring Mural May Be at Risk as Church Moves to Evict Tenants

By  James Fanelli and Ben Fractenberg | August 1, 2016 12:25pm

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6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Jean-Michel Basquiat Home and Studio

Historic Plaque Unveiling Ceremony
In Partnership with Two Boots

57 Great Jones Street

Wednesday, July 13th
6:00 P.M.
Free; reservations requested

The great American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) forged an innovative and inspiring language that melded his urban American experience with his African-Caribbean heritage. The painter, collagist and musician lived and worked at the height of his career in the 1980’s in a loft studio in NoHo, and his connection to the city was integral to his work. Join GVSHP and Two Boots outside 57 Great Jones Street to unveil a historic plaque that marks the site of his former home and studio. In the unveiling ceremony, we’ll celebrate and explore the invaluable work and local connections of this essential artist.

Event Location

57 Great Jones Street
New York, NY 10012…

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Briefly Seen, New York Street Life, with Harvey Stein, a professional photographer, teacher, lecturer, and author based in New York City.

March 9, 2016

Program Locations:

 This illustrated lecture documents the iconic areas of Midtown and Downtown Manhattan in 172 beautiful black-and-white photographs taken over 41 years, from 1974 through 2014.

Events at The New York Public Library may be photographed or recorded. By attending these events, you consent to the use of your image and voice by the Library for all purposes.

From The Village Voice:

Harvey Stein‘s black-and-white photographs of midtown Manhattan are crowded affairs: people huddled in close proximity in densely packed spaces, shoulders and necks jutting in the foreground, out-of-focus commuters charging ahead, glimpsed only fleetingly from the torso to the nose. In his two other portrait-heavy collections of New York locales (one of Coney Island, the other of Harlem), Stein often isolates one or two subjects, capturing a moment of characteristic expression. In the all-bets-are-off rush of midtown, however, any hope of a controlled environment is gone, and Stein’s goal shifts to mining split-second gestures from people in states of hurry and haste. Stein has been photographing midtown for over forty years, but between his use of wide-angle lenses (which stuff the frames with exuberant detail) and a tight, up-close perspective, his work feels removed from time — sample shots of a mad-dash energy that, despite the rapidly changing city supplying it, has remained much the same over the decades. Here, Stein reflects on these nearly two hundred images, which were published in the recent collection Briefly Seen: New York Street Life.

Photo Credit: Harvey Stein, from the book Briefly Seen: New York Street Life, published by Schiffer Publishing.

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It’s no secret that New York City was a major destination for black people from the South during The Great Migration (for a good book on the phenomena, see The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America), and that “Harlem, located at the north end of Manhattan is still the most dense (people per square mile) Black community in the nation.”  How it got that way: a case of reverse discrimination combined with black blockbusting and white flight:

“In 1905 Philip Payton and his company, The Afro-American Realty Company, was almost single-handedly responsible for migration of blacks from their previous neighborhoods. He did this by buying, leasing, and selling empty and white owned properties to Blacks without apologies for and against the white tenets objections. Less than two decades later African Americans from the south fueled the Great Migration, taking trains from southern U.S. states, especially Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia, As blacks moved in, white residents left; between 1920 and 1930, 118,792 white people left the neighborhood and 87,417 blacks arrived.”

New York City also experienced a not-insignificant uptick in Black migration/immigration in the 1980s.

MUG reports that a digital window has been provided into the historical perspective of black folk who came to NYC as either tourists or more permanent residents in the mid-20th century past. Many would likely have tried to avoid potential race-oriented confrontations or worse, by availing themselves of the following resource:


The Green Book, published by Harlem resident Victor Green from 1936-1966, listed hotels, restaurants and other attractions and services at which black travelers would be welcome. The Schomburg Center has digitized 21 Green Book volumes.

New York’s black (or as the terminology then regarded as correct had them, “negro”) population was active in trying to secure their civil rights at various times and in various ways, too many and varied to list here, but in addition to black oriented/published papers and periodicals, they made it into the mainstream news media of the early to mid 20th century as well:
One of the photos from PM: a short-lived, but well-loved paper that circulated in NYC during the 1940s shows Adam Clayton Powell speaking at a “Negro Freedom Rally” at (an older version of) Madison Square Garden. (There is an exhibit of some select articles and photos highlighting major stories from PM in the 1940s at the Steven Kasher Gallery through February 20th.)…

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