Wednesday, May 22, 2013

East Village 70s & 80s

Recently, a reader discovered a calendar of vintage East Village photos by local photographer Ann Sanfedele. Viewable on the photographer's website, the images are wonderful, everyday glimpses of the neighborhood when it was still quiet and Old World, punk rock and ragged.

In a 1970s shot of 7th Street between 1st and 2nd, a Kosher poultry market and an egg store ("open Thursday only"!) stand where an artisanal coffee shop and clothing boutiques are today. (See an egg shop film here.)

At 8th and 1st, Jo & Ray Pizza soon became Stromboli, as it still is today, and C&F Fabrics (with its Viletones graffiti) is now a shoe store. Theatre 80 looks exactly the same.

On East 14th, the Jefferson Theatre crumbles next to Smoke & More, where a roll-down gate bears the message, "You have messed up your life with crack. Why ours?"

A cat looks out a window from behind leopard-print curtains above Manic Panic, Tish and Snooky's original shop on St. Mark's.

And there's more--the St. Mark's cinema, the Grassroots Tavern, Astor Place before Starbucks, lost restaurants, vanished funeral parlors, people. I got in touch with Ann Sanfedele and asked her a few questions.

Q: How long have you lived in the East Village?

A: Steadily since 1963. Alphabet City back then, and 7th St since 1968. Earlier, I had lived for a few months on 6th St., off 2nd ave.

Q: When did you start photographing the neighborhood?

A: Since around 1966, which is about when I started doing photography. But I don't approach photography in a thematic way. I haven't been "photographing the neighborhood" so much as taking photos in the neighborhood, when something interesting has caught my eye. Living here for 50 years, and more often than not going about with a camera, it just happens that a lot of photos would be of things where I've spent the most time. Things get gathered into themes much later, sometimes by me, sometimes by others. The "Back in the Day" calendar was that sort of thing, a friend saying, "Why don't you do a calendar of...?" Much as my book "Sign Language" got put together, as well.

Q: How do you think the neighborhood compares today to back then?

A: It's radically different, across the board. Don't get me started.

Q: Please, get started.

A: One thing's for sure, NYU had not yet taken over the neighborhood, there were no Starbucks stores every five feet, there were no banks every two feet, and there were wonderful "mom and pop" meat and fish markets of several ethnicities. And the 60's were better than the 70's on the whole.

Q: So, is it safe to say you're not inspired to photograph any Starbucks or banks?

A: That would be correct. On the other hand, I have been photographing the demise--er, um--"changes" in the 'hood as they strike me. A few examples are in this gallery, which is a miscellany of stuff shot recently, some having to do with the progress of 51 Astor Place.

Q: Visually, does the East Village still inspire your photography in the same way?

A: No more or less than anywhere else I might be. The quality of light, the geometry of forms, capturing a decisive moment, ironic juxtaposition, sometimes just something that strikes my funny bone, are things that make me lift the camera to my eye.

  • See more of Ann's collection of 1970s and 1980s photos here.
  • Buy her calendars, including "East Village Back in the Day," here.


Marc Kehoe said...

ahhhh, the Egg Store...and the movie theater, where an obese audience member told me he was going to beat me up because I was laughing at 'Flashdance'

Barbara L. Hanson said...

The store that replaced the Egg Store was called No More Eggs.

Bruce Walker said...

Yay Ann! :-)

Ann Sanfedele said...

Barbara -
And no more eggs was on 9th Street and is gone now as well. Miss'em both


Joe said...


Baxwest said...

Wonderful stuff.

Baxwest said...

Wonderful stuff. Thanks, Ann!

laura said...

these photos are beautiful, i have already put them on my desk top.

ShatteredMonocle said...

JM, you gotta check out the Warriors before & after series on ScoutingNY.

Unknown said...

Ann's photography merits more widespread acclaim. It is a treasure. Check out her SmugMug account and buy one her photos.

laura said...

these photos are almost identical to mine. (laura's new york). where was the owl & the pussy cat? can you tell us something about that store?

Jeremiah Moss said...

Shattered, i took a look, thanks. he worked hard. very thorough, but the best part is Coney Island.

Anonymous said...

The "Egg Store" on East 7th Street was a neighborhood classic which lasted until the early 1990's. They sold so many eggs on the one day they were open each week that they could afford to pay the rent (which rent was probably 1/50th of what it is now). The eggs were so fresh they were still warm from the chickenss which laid them. If I recall, Robin Williams walks by it in "Moscow on the Hudson." And there is a video of the store from the late 1980's floating around the internet. I miss that store. I miss the East Village. I miss New York City.

Karl Kaefer said...

I remember Leshko's with great fondness, and Lus Mytukas- a Ukranian bar which was in the old Ukranian Home buildinh- A friend of mine lived on East Mark between Ave A& B...great times in the early 80's.

west kentucky resident said...

Not really appropriate for this entry but I don't know how to get things to you.

Chris Kreussling (Flatbush Gardener) said...

Ah, the midnight "Free for Mohawks" showings of "Taxi Driver" at the St. Mark's. And the rats in the aisles.

ann sanfedele said...

Answering Laura's question that I just saw this morning,
THe OWL and the Pussy Cat doesn't exist as an actual structure. It's my on-line cafepress store - I just load my images and cafepress does the rest - hence, the click-on Jeremiah nicely provided :-) Its all Publish-on-demand calendars and mugs and prints.

Uncle Waltie said...

"and Lus Mytukas- a Ukranian bar which was in the old Ukranian Home buildinh"

If you're referring to "Lys Mykytas"
(Sly Fox) I'm happy to report they're still very much around and open. Just walked by there about 15 minutes ago.

Trixie said...

That's my store, Revenge, in the April photo. We used to get a store full of stuff at a time; one time suits, one time leather jackets, whatever the rag house had that day; and everything would be $3 each, no matter what. We also had an in-house seamstress named Ace and sold Punk clothes. Everyone who was anyone shopped at Revenge from Rock Stars to Bowery Bums. The owner Champ DiPietro was born and raised in the neighborhood and before Revenge he had a store around the corner called The Late Show.

SandraS said...

I'm looking for photos of a large store that was on 14th Street west of Union Square in the 6s-80s called Robbins. Sold shirts, jeans, jackets, cheap packaged merchandise. Had a large block letter sign. Thanks!