Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bway and 88th in 1970

Some time ago I came upon this black and white film taken in 1971 (or, more likely, 1970) from a traffic island on Broadway near 88th Street. It was filmed by Nicholas West.



It's in slightly slow motion, so it feels underwaterish. Nothing much happens. People walk across the street or they sit and watch the traffic. Cars go by. The neon sign of the New Yorker cinema blinks off and then on again. On the marquee, a double bill: Pudovkin's "The End of St. Petersburg" with Hani's "Bwana Toshi," subject of a lukewarm 1970 review in the Times.

Wrote the reviewer, "In its emotional density and its cool compansion [sic], Hani's eroticism seems a good deal more humane than his humanism. It is also, of course, more erotic."

There is nothing apparently erotic about Broadway and 88th Street in the winter of--not 1971--but 1970. It is, however, loaded with humanity.







9 comments:

laura rubin said...

this is wonderful footage. i lived on west 79th & columbus in 1971-73, also on west 83rd street in 1974-77. the sinage looks like it could date back from back in the 1940s or so. changes were slow those days.

T.E. Rinaldi said...

So much glorious neon there! Of all those signs, I believe only one remains - that being Murray's Sturgeon, visible in the distance beyond the New Yorker marquee, at 2429 B'way.

Richard Federico said...

Nice little slice of a Manhattan neighborhood and street scene back in 1970. I miss those muscle cars, but not the emissions.

Eric Varca said...

The problem with NYC today is how stores cover their wonderful storefronts with the truly hideous plastic awnings. These ugly things create more bird waste, are easily ripped, and often cover up hidden gems of old-school flat signs. I wish more people could the aesthetics that NYC had from the 1920s through the early 1980s. Back to the video, I love seeing people not holding their hands to their eyes and actually watching where they are going. Compare this footage with one of today and you will see the zombie generation. Sometimes I wish an electromagnetic storm would come, destroy these nuisances and we could go back to normalcy, alas.

max said...

I live in the area, and the change does not seem to be as dramatic compared to other neighborhoods. It is heart warming to see that the elderly still love these benches in the middle of Broadway!

laura rubin said...

dont forget there are grand old pre war buildings in the UWS! i hope there arent many tacky high rises. i loved columbus ave in "71-72. quiet & nice small businesses. we would meet @ a little chichi place called "ruskays". the only gentrified restaurant amongst all the diners. it was where the creative gay men would go to get a bit of chic. no tourists ever. those were the days. you had your own private places, & not expensive.

Unknown said...

I lived and worked in the area then, and still live there now. Good to see the Party Cake sign — it was owned by the family that bought into Cake Masters, also on the UWS and where I worked my way through college. Thanks for this.

Pat said...

I grew up on West 72nd Street and lived there until 1969. I remember the Cake Masters on W. 72nd, the coffee rings and challah bread were my favorites! One time I was in there and heard people discussing a wedding cake with two grooms on it. No discrimination there!

Nicholas West said...

Hello all - Jeremiah, thank you so much for putting my little film on your terrific site, and thank you all for your nice comments. A little aside....there is an obscure controversy connected with this film. Many many people who have seen it claim that at :52 seconds into the film, John Lennon and Yoko Ono may be seen walking together from right to left across the southern traffic island at 88th st. The couple in question certainly look like them as they looked at the time, they had just moved to New York around that time, and were known to visit book shops and health food restaurants on the Upper West Side. I was not aware when I was shooting this that I had inadvertently John Lennon; but I have watched this hundreds of times and am still unsure of what I am seeing. He certainly looks like 1970-era John Lennon, metal granny glasses and all; and the height difference between the man and the woman is correct as well. What does everyone think? With regards to all - Nicholas West