A little under a year ago, I started my own Flickr page and uploaded piles and piles of my photographs. I then proceeded to split them up into different sets like "Street Art," "Black & White," "Vanished," etc. For the most part, I was pretty thorough, but after a while, I started to get a bit lazy. As such, several of my uploaded pics lack the specific tags or pertinent information that would make them more easily search-able to the perusing Flickr-user. It's an oversight I keep planning on amending, but time never allows. In these instances, if anyone wants to see them, they're just going to have to stumble upon them on their own.
As a frequent Flicker-trawler, I should find this reprehensible, as I've spent hours combing the site, looking for photographs of specific things (many of which have shown up here). Frequently, the most interesting pictures are untagged ones I uncover by accident. These instances lure me into believing that there must be photos of everything out there – either on Flickr or on the internet as a whole -- but that I just haven't gleaned how to successfully find them yet.
As an unapologetically nostalgic New Yorkophile, I'm always on the hunt for photographs of the New York City that has since slipped from regular view – fleeting glimpses of streets, buildings and storefronts that are no longer there. I'm less concerned with shots of famous landmarks. As much as I'm fascinated by pictures of, say, the old, cathedral-like Penn Station (the one they tore down), there are thousands of photographs of same out there. While I doubt any of them come close to replicating the experience of standing in that storied structure, they at least suffice in providing the basic imagery. The pictures I'm after, though, are ones of a seemingly banal and/or niche variety. They probably don't matter to most people, but for a small, sentimental elite, they'll doubtlessly resonate.
Take, for example the unfortunately-tiny picture at the top of this post. That's a photograph of the original Forbidden Planet, then located on the northwest corner of East 12th Street & Broadway. You're probably saying to yourself, "big whoop, Alex." Well, since the day that fabled geek paradise opened in 1981, I was a slavishly devoted acolyte and frequent shopper, regularly hopping on the downtown 6 train from my home on the Upper East Side to pay homage to its enviable, sprawling collection of comics, horror & sci-fi gear. I can close my eyes and still find my way around its aisles in my head. Of course, that store closed in 1996, later to relocate just across the street and up a bit to the southeast corner of 13th Street & Broadway. That newer location is fine, but it doesn't have the same affiliations for me. Meanwhile, the old incarnation – replete with its massive signage featuring Brian Bolland's endearingly menacing creatures --- has been all but erased by history. That's the Forbidden Planet I loved, and the above picture -- prized not via Flickr but from a random Google search -- is the only visual proof I've found that it ever existed.
Anyway, inspired by this, I compiled a list of other places that have since gone the way of the woolly mammoth that I'd love to track down pictures of. Let me know if you have or have spotted any of these…
The old Burlington Mills attraction on 6th Avenue: This, if I recall correctly, was a block-long "ride" in the lobby of an office building in midtown that my mother took me to a few times in the mid-to-late 1970s. You'd step onto a conveyor belt, and it would slowly take you through a few rooms that shows film-strips of how Burlington textiles were made, including a big, bright room filled with hundreds of whirling sewing machines. It's sounds odd, yes, but my memories of riding it are pretty vivid, and I'd love some verification of it. I have, thus far, found none.
The Carnegie Mansion's Children's Garden: Today, this beautiful building is the home of the Cooper-Hewitt, but until but before the mansion was transformed into that august design museum in 1976, its verdant, rear lawn played host to a private children's park. I'm not exactly sure what the membership conditions were, but one needed a key to enter. My mother and several other neighborhood moms had keys. As such, I have many memories of frolicking about as a small child in that beautiful space. My mother has a tiny clutch of photos taken in that garden, but surely other people must have documented it as well, no?
The Trans-Lux Movie Theater on Lexington Avenue: I wrote about that here, but have yet to find any pictures of it.
Rappaport's on Third Avenue: This was a sizable toy store that rivaled F.A.O. Schwarz back in the day. I have only vague memories of it, but would love to jog them with a picture.
There are others. I'd love to find some pictures of the East 86th Street of my youth when it was dotted with movie theaters, fast food joints and record shops. Likewise, there are leagues of record shops (some I discussed here) that I'd love to find pictures of. It's a strange obsession. I'd imagine it doesn't normally occur to someone to take a photograph of a random store, but certainly some people have made a practice of it. Any information would be welcomed.