I finally found a packet of photographs I'd long feared lost--a handful of black-and-white images of a vanished Times Square that I took one day in the early 1990s.
I used to love walking up and down 42nd Street between Broadway and 8th. The sidewalks were unclogged by tourists and there were no peddlers begging to sketch your caricature or write your name on a grain of rice. The only barkers barking called out, "Girls, girls, girls, one dolla, one dolla, one dolla."
Ancient marquees provided shade with their canopies of busted bulbs. Lunch was best at the Grand Luncheonette. I've written about it all here before.
The buildings back then were low and made of brick. They were human-sized, manageable. They contained hot-sheet hotels ("Couples Welcome"), cheap eateries ("Flame Steaks"), tobacco shops, arcades, adult bookstores, peepshows, and the like.
I took these photos with a chunky 1970 Nikon F that had spent some time, before my time, in the Vietnam War. It was a big, conspicuous camera with its long lens. On 8th Avenue, as I was taking this photo of The Eros gay porn theater (closed around 1996, today the Playwright Tavern), I noticed I was being shadowed by a shadowy figure with eyes for my camera.
I dodged him, but he kept following. I could not shake him. Before he could make a grab, I hopped on a bus to escape, camera still safely around my neck.
With that outing cut short, I only got about a dozen photos of the Deuce that day. Black-and-white film was expensive, so I didn't shoot much or often, and these are all I have. Now that they've been scanned into electronic format, you can see them all here on my flickr page.