Wednesday, May 14, 2014

7th and 2nd: 1981

This week, the Dirty Old 1970s New York City Facebook page posted a photo of a nondescript corner in the East Village. It's a simple image, but it has resonance and gravitas.

Sven Kierst, 1981

The photo was taken by Sven Kierst in 1981. There's a brick wall covered with battered posters, a beat-up American car, and a punk making a call at a pair of pay phones.

One reader identified the guy at the phones as Nick Marden, son of artist Brice Marden and Pauline Baez (sister of Joan), and member of The Stimulators. He was photographed in this same jacket by Robert Mapplethorpe in 1980.

The location has been identified as the northwest corner of 7th Street and 2nd Avenue, and it looks like it, with some structural changes. At the time, Love Saves the Day was still in a small space over on 8th Street. The shop owners made some alterations, but the corner maintained its offbeat character until the late 2000s.


The corner looks very different today.

The payphones were ripped out and covered over when Love Saves the Day shuttered after over 20 years here (the rent had tripled) and a sushi and ramen place moved in (quickly shuttered). A man used to check those payphones daily for change.


The barred windows and the arch have been bricked shut. A fence was added to keep the garbage penned in. The bricks sport a coat of clean red paint, and the only posters are for a pop-up shop from a luxury designer featured in Vogue ("You know her. The French girl with the just-rolled-out-of-bed, can’t-be-bothered look. She pulls on last night’s clothes—slouchy tee, gray jeans. Fingers through the hair, a touch of makeup, and she goes out. Yet she looks smashing").

All that's missing is a guy in flip-flops and backward baseball cap talking on an iPhone. 


Walter said...

"All that's missing is a guy in flip-flops and backward baseball cap talking on an iPhone."

Or a woman with a rolled up Yoga Mat under her arm.

Anonymous said...

I miss all the beat up American cars of NYC

James C. Taylor said...

There are still a handful of beat up American automobiles around the East Village. I know of six off the top of my head that are nearly always parked in the same spot.

Glad I took a few photos of those payphones before they went.

Anonymous said...

Walter don't forget the yoga pants on just about every woman under 40 regardless of any yoga classes.

Anonymous said...

OMG, those good beat-up old cars! there used to be a real beauty outside the Mystery Lot on 13th street; a gold 70s number. I'd mention some other locations but I don't wanna jinx them!:)

JJ Minihane said...

I miss the days when you could get your assed kicked just for looking at someone the wrong way , how the artists would get beaten up because they were white nerds , and the smell of pot filled the streets
The economy sucked , the city was broke , and Taxi Driver -esque movies ruled the day

Andy Buck said...

A quick bit of trivia about this spot: According to interviews published around the time that Angels in America premiered, playwright Tony Kushner came out to his mother on one of these pay phones in the same year, 1981, that Sven Kierst took the photo of Joan Baez's nephew. Kushner's phone call inspired a scene from Angels in which the young Mormon lawyer calls his mother from a phone in Central Park.

Anonymous said...

Way,way back in 1981,
Can you believe it?

LoudFastRules said...

That picture is Nick Marden of the stimulators the greatest of greats from New York i just sent him the link to this page nice job by the way and as always LOUD FAST RULES!!!

nbm3 said...


If anyone ever see's my stolen jacket please let me know .