Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Meatpacking Guys: 1977

In the summer of 1977, Richard Ovaduke brought his roommate's 35-millimeter camera to the Gansevoort Meat Market, where he worked as a butcher on 14th Street. He spent a day taking pictures of the guys he worked with. Recently, he scanned over 50 photos and put them up on Facebook.



The images provide a rare and intimate inside look at a vanished world, populated by the men of the lost Meatpacking District, now an exclusive zone of glitz, supermodels, and multi-millionaires. In grainy black and white, in bloody smocks, the men horse around, sharpen their knives, cut meat--and drink coffee from the Sweet Corner Cafe, where girls danced topless during breakfast (the address also housed infamous gay bar The Toilet and Lee's Mardi Gras shop for crossdressers--it's now the Gaslight Lounge).

Ovaduke told me, "These photos were really just meant to be a personal remembrance for me. I never planned on doing anything with them." But now he has done something, and we can all enjoy them. Here's a handful, along with the photographer's casual captions:

A co-worker, standing on the corner of 14th street and 9th Avenue...looking north. The Apple store is now at this location.



Sweet Corner Cafe...breakfast and lunch...and topless dancers...



you can see the Sweet Corner Cafe on the right....



"Big Jeff" (R.I.P.) he was the..umm..."security"...when shoplifters were caught (and there were many)...he determined what "sentence" they would get....right behind him is where the Apple super-store now stands...



This guy was one of 4 people who hit lotto in '78...he was the "cashier" at Frankies...his take was
$600k...



"Pocket Protector"...Barretta 950 single-action .25 Jetfire



Abby, Ace, Shorty, Danny, Columbo



8 comments:

marjorie said...

Thanks for sharing these. They're wonderful -- terrific, melancholy pictures of a vanished time, but also straight-up terrific pictures. Richard's an excellent photographer.

Anonymous said...

These are remarkable, beautiful photographs in their own right - evocative not only of a lost community within NYC, but of the often unsung joys of blue-collar work. In a culture that nowadays all too often focuses on and celebrates the corporate life, people like these are often forgotten, and what a shame. They are vibrant, hardworking, and colorful - even in black and white. Thank you for sharing these.

Mitch said...

Presumably some similar photos (less the 70s facial hair) could be taken in the Bronx now?

Caleo said...

Beautiful.
Thanks for sharing.

laura r. said...

where is the new meat market? where is the new fish market? bronx? brooklyn? queens? good photos.

Mitch said...

The new meat market (the restaurants have to buy their meat somewhere) is in Hunts Point, Bronx.

http://www.huntspointcoopmkt.com/

Those of us here may like the old one better but I wonder what the people who actually work there think. (Which in no way is meant to defend what the meat packing district has become).

JAZ said...

Thanks again for these - with how completely it's been washed away, sometimes you need to see the actual photos from the Meatpacking District to convince yourself some of the best memories of your childhood weren't all made up in your head.

If there's anything more soul crushing than having a slicked back haired Euro and his vapid eye candy drunkenly stop you to ask 'where is MePa', then I don't ever want to experience what it is.

3rd Rate Chump said...

Wow! Thanks so much for posting these! The photos are great in their own right, but to see the old way of NYC is truly amazing. People always seem to think that the "old" NY was empty and dangerous. While you had to keep your wits about you it was always filled to the brim with regular folks making an honest living. Maybe the old Meatpacking district looked menacing to outsiders who wandered in by accident, but I'm sure if you were there every day on the clock you were recognized and left alone by even the rough characters. If you belong you belong no matter the neighborhood. Now it's whitewashed.