Over the past nine plus years here on Flaming Pablum, I’ve penned more than a few posts that lionize the former Tower Records on the southeast corner of East Fourth and Broadway, but I’ll let my good pal and fabulous art-scribe babe C-Monstah sum it up from this post on her blog from 2010….
As any old school New York City hoodrat can tell you, back in the days when the hair was big and the Internerdz didn’t exist, the Tower Records space on lower Broadway was a place of pilgrimage for all things music. In addition to being the spot where you could find plaid-shirted rock nerds deconstructing the various minor schools of punk, it was the only store in the city where you could also get Lowrider Magazine.
Even though it was technically a big chain store, Tower — for most of its tenure on that perch — really got it right. They had a sprawling collection of music, from the favorites to the far-flung. Whether you were looking for Huey Lewis, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Sergei Prokofiev, Kurtis Blow or fucking COIL, Tower almost always had you covered. It also served as a great destination — a place you could spend hours in just browsing. Think about it — the places left to do that are drying up faster than you think.
When that location closed in 2006, it was the end of an era. The massive space served as a few rudimentary pop-up stores for a while (including, briefly, a Toys R’ Us outlet) before it was announced in 2011 that it was to become the “MLB Mancave,” an elaborate promotional vehicle for professional sports (which, of course, prompted a lot of hue and cry from my circle).
The only reason I’m re-waxing rhapsodic about the place now is that earlier this week on the (afore-cited and afore-praised) Facebook group Manhattan Before 1990, a gent name Kim posted the video below. Here’s what he had to say about it.
Super-8 footage I took inside Tower Records in the mid-1980s. (The title says 1983 but now I'm thinking it's more like 1985.) Yes, it's supposed to be that fast.
Here’s the clip. Look how many people there are.....
More about Tower on Flaming Pablum here....
The photo at the top of this post, meanwhile, was snapped by the great Dith Pran for the New York Times.