Monday, November 18, 2013

Vintage 1980s snapshots of the seedy and sensational lost 42nd Street!

Way back in the late 80s,
right before 42nd Street was sweep clean
and purified with Disney goodness, you could still enjoy the
historic New York location in all it's noisy,
colorful, rude and vivid glory.

As an aspiring artist, starting at 17ish, I would travel to NY every once in awhile to show my illustrations. This was before websites, emails and electricity, so you had to get your work seen the old fashioned way, pestering. I'd crash at friends/relatives apartments and spend the day cold calling and pleading. If I was lucky I'd get an actual face to face with an art director at a magazine or comic publisher, but more often than not I'd have to do the portfolio drop off where I'd get it there by 10am and pick it up after lunch. I only had the one (didn't think to have multiples) so that left me plenty of free time to stroll the city, and what was more eye catching than 42nd Street? I wish I had taken 1000 more photos (and gone back at night) of the amazing buildings and people that could only be found there, but at least I got a handful of snapshots of the long gone cool decaying seediness of that bustling stretch of real estate!

Brought to you by the MUST HAVE book of 2014!


  1. Fascinating artifacts! Poor Howard Johnson's sure seems like a fish out of water. Judging by its vintage sign I assume the neighborhood changed around it.

  2. Thanks for this. This was when I was first in NYC too. Brought back a lot of memories -- but I don't miss some of the smells! Ha ha.

  3. Nice pix! Bring back so many memories. It might have been tawdry, but it was awesome! Those two qualities so often go together in real urban life...or they used to.

    I did my own take on the topic on my blog, too:

    I enjoy your illustrations, too! Cool stuff.

  4. Some of these are 90's based on the movies that are playing. Great, nostalgic pictures!

  5. I went to that Hojo's bar/resto (more than once). Sigh. I miss that NYC, desperately.

  6. Marvelous that you did this. I wanted to but lost my cameras and then didn't.

  7. Fantastic. I started coming to NYC as a freshman college student in 1986 and made that walk from Grand Central to Port Authority many times before moving here in 1990. I love NYC and these photos really bring back the memories. Thanks!

  8. Most of these pics were taken in 1991. "Boyz N The Hood," "Point Break" and etc. were released in 91. These aren't vintage 80s shots.

  9. The final days of a grindhouse era! Great pics!

  10. WOW! Is all I can say. Those old shots are fabulous! I didn't visit NYC at all in those days. I lived in Maine at the time. I wish I had though. Thanks for sharing those times with the rest of the world.

  11. NYC was a dump back then. I grew up in NYC and simply avoided Times Square (42nd Street) altogether. The few times I drove down 42nd Street, I had prostitutes come up to the car to solicit my boyfriend through the window. WTF! Needless to say, I am so glad Times Square has been totally regentified and now looks so much better and more family oriented. One drawback is...that now it is the target of terrorism.....something we never had to think about back in the 70's and 80's.

    1. sounds like a scared ass person :/ haha