Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New York 1979

A reader sent in a link to another cache of scanned photos featuring the old city, this one of 1979. Photographer M. Joedicke's collection includes many shots of empty streets, crumbling industrial riversides, and dusty old trucks. Here and there, a barely recognizable scene appears--the west side piers, a piece of High Line, a parking lot off Times Square.



Taken as a whole, it's a portrait of a dreary, desolate city where few humans dare (or bother) to tread.


a peek at the once lovely Terminal Diner

The images conjure up a town populated by cigarette advertisements and leaky fire hydrants, where the buildings sag and the paint jobs peel. These photographs might just leave the taste of car exhaust and gutter rain in your mouth.

21 comments:

Mark said...

These pictures actually made me nostalgic and happy. I was able to pinpoint the locale of each one within seconds. I even realized that several pictures were taken from the old elevated Miller Highway. These are great. This is what New York looked like.

Barbara L. Hanson said...

Dreary? Desolate? It was a playground for the creative. Today's glass towers are worthy of those adjectives.

Anonymous said...

It is useful for people who incessantly whine about what NYC is becoming to remember that it was quite the cesspool for a time until people from the suburbs started returning.

Anonymous said...

There's a Westway on Clarkson now which has a gay night on Tuesday. IT's a lot of no-rules fun!

ShatteredMonocle said...

This one is a gold mine.

I wonder if the lawyer's office pictured here...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-joedicke/3477335316/in/set-72157612651284526/

Is this one...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynne_Stewart

Jeremiah Moss said...

the photos are dreary and desolate. there are very few people or activity in them. Anon 10:08, if you like the suburbs so much, maybe they're calling your name.

Brendan said...

Could it have something to do with the weather or time of day? I know the city used to be less crowded than it is now but most pictures I've seen from that time have a LOT more people in them.

Caleo said...

Wonderful find. This is a time when NYC was a fully functioning, working class city. And this was a time when the city was peaking in terms of the creation of music and culture that spread out and influenced the rest of the globe.
Looks beautiful to my eyes. Some see a cesspool. I see a real city, with real people eating at a great diner, or walking near a parking lot in front of an incredible mural.
Today we have a shiny, happy playground for tourists and students who spend half their time on I-phones texting each other about what they had for their mid morning snack. Today NYC is a sad simulacra of a real city, but definitely not the real thing.

JAZ said...

God, I've always loved 358 West St. It has such a quiet dignity to it, as if it knows its working class history - and is damn proud of it.

Those photos are all beautiful, but I wish they didn't make me so sad.

Anon 10:08 - you just don't get it.

rick mcginnis said...

Yup - a dusty, decaying, depressed-looking city.

God how I miss it.

Mark said...

Jeremiah, there were less people living in the city then. It wasn't desolate. It's just way overcrowded now and you're not used to seeing without the hordes.

As far as anonymous, well...the people who returned from the suburbs with their strollers and their chain stores are exactly what ruined the character of this city. If you'd actually been here in those years, you wouldn't be calling it a cesspool. It was our playground.

Long time reader, first time commenter said...

Been following this blog since its inception and one thing I notice about then and now is that more and more anonymous are commenting about how they hate the old and change is inevitable and are pro-suburbanification of NYC. They are not happy with gentrifying NYC; they must also gentrify this blog.

Jeremiah Moss said...

Long-Time, i think you're right about that.

i'm not really saying the city was empty then, in reality, but that the version of the city seen in these photos is empty. my writing, however, might not be so clear.

Conan1982 said...

This was when New York was still a great place to live. Between the diversity of neighborhoods, experiences and people there was always something out there worth doing or seeing. Now it's become a playground for tourists and the rich.

BabyDave said...

Nice find. Thanks for sharing, fellow reader.
And the Clover Deli!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/m-joedicke/3733074814/in/set-72157612651284526/
It's still there, with its great sign.

Jack Womack said...

Jeremiah, when I moved here in 1977 the population was I think right around 7 million, and it's now nearly 8.4 million; and there are so many more tourists (local and farflung) here as well, all the time, and everywhere. When I see these photos I realize it was only within the past ten years it's become so much more, well, teeming.

Ken Mac said...

Look at all those parking lots and empty streets! At least Clover Deli is still there, and the same

John M said...

Please, God, take me back and let me live there where I belong.

Anonymous said...

"the photos are dreary and desolate. there are very few people or activity in them. Anon 10:08, if you like the suburbs so much, maybe they're calling your name."

I've lived in Manhattan for my entire adult life, but I'll happily relocate to the suburbs should the city once again become a budding Detroit.

Brian Dubé said...

I remember the city like this. It's a good thing we can occasionally find remnants of Old New York in today's city. Change is inevitable, but luckily there are things that have been either preserved or left over.

Anonymous said...

This could just be careful editing and selecting of pics or me romanticizing a New York I never knew, but something about these struck me as being aimed at a future generation.

It almost appears someone went back in time to snap photos of things that would be gone in just a few decades.

Whereas we most often see pictures of people or events, here there is a focus on advertisements, businesses, empty lots, facades, classic transportation - all gone now or radically changed - yet they are featured as if the photographer knew the impact these images it would have on a viewer today.