It’s a gleaming mix of old and new in this postcard. There’s the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building, and in the forefront an old brewery and tenements.
They look like they’re soon to meet the wrecking ball.
Second Avenue’s Industrial Hair specialized in “ultrashort, severe, androgynous styles” reported an August 1984 New York magazine piece on where to shop in the East Village.
“Local residents consider Industrial Hair one of the best of these salons,” the writer states in an item about creative and avant-garde hair cutting spots.
“It’s high-tech, with rubber-tile floors and Pirelli garbage cans. A whip (for clients who fidget?) hangs ominously from an iron bar near the ceiling.”
This Industrial Hair ad comes from the October 1983 East Village Eye.
I’d never heard of the Norman Luboff Choir before finding this gem of an album cover. It captures the energy and magic of Times Square in 1958, just before the area started to slide.
There’s the Capitol Theatre, now the Paramount Plaza office tower, at 1645 Broadway; it showed its last movie in 1968. The Astor Theater is at front left.
The “Howard” sign must be for Howard Johnson’s. And the Brass Rail, at right, on Seventh Avenue and 49th Street, had a popular cocktail lounge.
So what’s a Hollywood Walk of Fame–style memorial to Yiddish theater stars of the 19th and early 20th centuries doing in front of a Chase bank branch on Second Avenue and 10th Street?
It was created by the Second Avenue Deli in 1984, which occupied this site for decades until 2006.
About 30 plaques are embedded in the sidewalk, each bearing the name (or in some cases two names) of some of the biggest celebrities who graced the theaters and vaudeville houses that lined Second Avenue.
Fyvush Finkel, Bruce Adler, and Molly Picon, above right, also have stars. Many of the others, unfortunately, are too worn down to read.
The stately Metropolitan Museum of Art has anchored Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street for so long, it’s hard to imagine the museum and its collections anywhere else.
But in 1873, when the Met was a mere three years old and it needed new digs following a first stint at 681 Fifth Avenue, the museum moved here, a stretch of the city that then featuring mansions and wealth.
The Met took up residence at 128 West 14th Street, in what’s referred to as the Douglas mansion.
It didn’t last long there. By 1880, the growing museum had decamped far uptown to its present site at 1000 Fifth Avenue. Here it is in a postcard dated 1928.
And the Douglas mansion? It burned down in 1918. The Salvation Army had been leasing it as a training school; they rebuilt their headquarters on the site, and are still there today.
This frozen-in-time faded ad—complete with 1980s-style graffiti—remains on the side of a warehouse along 31st Street in Astoria.
The RA comes from Ravenswood, an enchantingly named hamlet that once existed along the East River and was home to many old-money mansions in the 19th century.
The neighborhood was absorbed into Long Island City toward the end of the 1800s, but the name lives on in the form of the nearby Ravenswood Houses and the Ravenswood Generation Station.
This Millionaire Realty sign, on Astoria Boulevard, doesn’t look very old. But it must date back to the 1960s at least, when telephone numbers still had the two-letter prefix.
Decorating the facade are images of candles and oil lamps—which makes sense for the former headquarters of a huge power company.
“At the base of the tower these include torches, lamps, and urns on the original canopy at the main entrance on Irving Place and torches, suns, candelabra, Jupiter heads, and lightning bolts on the frieze over the first-story shop windows,” states the Landmarks Preservation Commission report from 2009.
And of course, there’s the incredible 38-foot bronze lantern capping the top of the tower.
“This tower was planned to be dramatically lighted at night, advertising the wonders of the electricity that the company sold,” reports New York Architecture Images. “Known as the ‘Tower of Light,’ this was memorial to the company’s employees who had died in World War I.”