When rock album covers featured New York City

Remember album art—and hey, remember albums?

Back in the rock LP’s heyday, images of the city made it on many a front and back cover.

The New York locations for the cover art on The Doors’ Strange Days and The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan have gotten plenty of exposure.

But some cover shots and images deserves a second look.

Simon and Garfunkel’s first album was shot in the 53rd Street subway station. (Vintage trash can at left.)

When it came out in 1964 on the heels of Beatlemania, it bombed . . . then became a hit after a re-release two years later.

Art Garfunkel has said that they took hundreds of shots on the platform before finally getting the right one.

Gem Spa is still on the corner of Second Avenue and St. Marks Place, as it was when the New York Dolls posed there for the back of their 1973 first LP.

Steely Dan’s Pretzel Logic cover was photographed in 1974 just inside Central Park off of Fifth Avenue.

That’s a real pretzel vendor working a snowy city day there, selling his “pretzles” at bargain-basement prices.

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16 Responses to “When rock album covers featured New York City”

  1. Frank Lynch Says:

    Utopia’s “Oops, Wrong Planet” featured a shot of Wall Street, looking west to Trinity Church.

  2. James Taylor Says:

    I always felt that those stacked pretzels to the vendor’s left looked like they’d been superimposed afterwards. The lighting and graininess looks off. Any major dude will tell you…

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    I always had a soft spot for that song. What other song mentions squonks?

  4. NYCDreamin Says:

    Nice!

    I happened to see Gothamist picked up your piece yesterday and linked to it.

    I’ve been running my own series of NYC Album Cover images for several weeks now (I’m on #15 today) – have a look if you feel so inclined:

    http://thisaintthesummeroflove.blogspot.com/2011/05/new-york-city-images-as-albumcd-cover.html

    • wildnewyork Says:

      Yours are more exhaustive than mine. Thanks for the link and shout-out. And yikes, I haven’t thought of Type O Negative or Deep Purple in years.

      Looking forward to seeing more….

      • NYCDreamin Says:

        There are so many of them – I’m guessing I can keep going at a pace of one a week for the rest of the year, maybe longer. I usually run one on Wednesdays. Glad you enjoyed ’em!

  5. chris Says:

    How about those 2 photos of the stones on e.24th st?Taken with a fish eye lens about 1966?One with them in drag.

  6. Hidden Track » Bloggy Goodness: Hoopla Pale Ale Says:

    […] Ephemeral New York looks at some album covers shot in NYC […]

  7. aspicco Says:

    Simon & Garfunkel at 53rdStreet? What line? That’s not 53rd & Lex/3rd….

  8. wildnewyork Says:

    53rd Street and 5th Avenue–the E/M station.

  9. Steve Rosenbach Says:

    Don’t forget at least TWO Billy Joel Albums… “52nd Street” and the much nicer album cover, “Turnstiles”

  10. WHAMMO! Says:

    The “Turnstiles” cover was shot at the Astor Place station.

  11. elizabethfinkelstein Says:

    The blog of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation just wrote a post on the British rock band Foghat’s fifth and most successful album, 1975′s “Fool for the City,” the cover of which is on East 11th Street.

    http://gvshp.org/blog/2011/08/24/a-slow-ride-back-to-75-on-east-11th-street/

  12. Album covers from the 1970s shot in New York | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] albums shot on New York streets must have been a thing in the 1960s and 1970s—like these here. Maybe it all started with The Freewheeling Bob Dylan on Jones […]

  13. Angelo Says:

    I want to know about the man himself selling the pretzels on the Steely Dan cover. His accent? His origin? How old he was? His aspirations and inspirations…….His fate……………

    • Elaine Alosi Says:

      So interesting that you would ask this. We are trying to find out the same thing. We are wondering if that is our grandfather. There was someone here on the forum that mentioned that this person did not want his image used for the album cover. That led me to believe he had some information so I have sent him a reply

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