One of the greatest aspects about maintaining this weblog for the last seven years has been connecting with people (readers, fellow bloggers, artists, writers, filmmakers, musicians, photographers, etc.) who share the same affinity I feel for New York City and what I would consider its vanishing (or, at the very least, transforming) character. Along the way, I've amassed a steady stable of like-minded archivists and nostalgic folks with keen memories, and it's really been re-affirming. Every time I'm convinced I'm simply typing away into an empty void, someone comes along to share their own pictures or recollections. At the risk of getting all wetly weepy, it's really been encouraging.
With my fellow bloggers -- folks like EV Grieve, Jeremiah Moss, Bowery Boogie, Brian K, Yukie from The SoHo Memory Project and beyond -- whenever one of us stumbles upon a new trove of vintage NYC pics or a new blog rife with heretofore unseen images of lost elements from the city, we shout about it from the highest rooftop. Today is one of those times.
A gent named Gregoire Alessandrini reached out to me yesterday, inspired by my recent post about The Gas Station. Gregoire maintains an amazing, photo-driven blog called NEW YORK CITY 1990's, and when I perused through it this morning, my jaw dropped open. It's spectacular.
I devote an inordinate amount of time here waxing rhapsodic about New York in the 1980s, a decade I spent being a student. But the 1990s were just as dynamic. Most of my own photographs date back to this period. But Gregoire's pictures really, really capture it. As I've said in various posts along the way, the 90's don't feel that long ago, but to look at these photographs, you'd barely recognize it as the same city today.
Within Gregoire's archives, you'll find images of long-vanished storefronts, bars, landmarks, street art and other elements of the time period -- from Billy's Topless on 6th Avenue to the Savoy in Hell's Kitchen to The Vault in the Meatpacking District and all points in between --- that just do not exist anymore.
I'm taking the liberty of repurposing one of Gregoire's shots above. I don't recall the exact address, but the building pictured looming in the background is one I actually worked in for a spell in the mid-90's. After tiring of having an army of sketchy freelancers troop in and out of his apartment on a daily basis, my old editor for The New York Review of Records (a sadly long-vanished music rag I fervently scribbled for in the 90s) began a frenetic relocation dance around Manhattan. Circa 1993 or so, this was its temporary base of operations.
As you can see in the photograph, the eastern-facing facade of the building was festooned with a massive, imaginative mural suggesting that a higher portion of the building had become detached and was dangling from a thread. I always loved that. I'm not even sure I could identify this building today, but suffice to say, the mural in question was painted over eons ago. When I saw Gregoire's photograph, I was blown out of my chair. You simply have no idea how long I have searched for an image that captured it.
Once again, go check out NEW YORK CITY 1990's now! Tell'em I sent'cha.