The Mid-Manhattan Library, long neglected, has seen better days. Due to be closed and devoured by the Main Branch, it won't be around much longer (assuming the NYPL's plan goes forward). While there's still time, go hang out with the Picture Collection. Located on the third floor, the collection contains over a million "original prints, photographs, posters, postcards and illustrations from books, magazines and newspapers, classified into 12,000 subject headings."
One of those subject headings is New York City, spread across several folders, and organized by neighborhood, decade, and themes. You can sit and sift through this treasure trove to your heart's content. Totally unfussy, they let you take digital photos of as much as you want. It's a very hands-on, user-friendly experience.
With so many images from the lost city, you can really go crazy in this place.
Anything might suddenly appear. Here's just a few. Above, in the upper right, two East Village shots, plus a Nedick's, and more.
Below, a couple caught embracing, like dancers, on the corner of St. Mark's Place and Third Avenue. There's the vanished St. Mark's Pizza, and something called "Jack the Ribber."
East Villagers sucking on popsicles and playing guitar while--is that a corpse, or someone with dirty feet napping atop a car?
Commentary from the 1960s and 1980s on real-estate development east and west.
The original (?) Pink Pussycat.
The long-lost corner of 42nd Street and 8th Avenue, back when it was still the Deuce.
And then there's Edna Thayer, singing waitress at the Automat, 1972.
Known as "The Automat Gal," Edna got a brief write-up in Oregon's Eugene Register-Guard, in a 1973 story about aged vaudevillians. She sang for Automat customers every Monday morning. She'd been in show business for 64 years, starting at the age of 3. She said, "I've lived in the Times Square area for 37 years, but, oh, how it's changed."
If I could go back in time, I'd sit all morning in that Automat and listen to old Edna belt them out.