“Moments of a vanished time” in Hell’s Kitchen

Inspired by the 1972 Helen Levitt photo “Kids With Laundry” that was posted here last week, Ephemeral reader Paul Mones sent me these snapshots he took in the early spring of 1973.

Born in the Bronx, Mones was a college student then; the photos were part of an essay for an urban sociology class he took at SUNY Buffalo.

They chronicle some seemingly ordinary street scenes from 33rd Street to 50th Street or so: the merchants, shoppers, pedestrians, and storefronts of a typical stretch of Manhattan in the early 1970s.

I imagine that Mones didn’t think he captured anything remarkable when he developed the film. But he did: They’re lovely, unposed glimpses into little moments of a vanished time, as he put it.

Check out the hand-painted bar signage, pre-Korean deli vegetable dealer, metal garbage can, and messy bargain bins outside a discount store that’s now probably the home of a fusion restaurant or upscale cocktail lounge.

And a shoeshine stand/umbrella repair place! So many relics of another era.

[All photos copyright Paul Mones]

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15 Responses to ““Moments of a vanished time” in Hell’s Kitchen”

  1. Ron Frankl Says:

    Beautiful pictures. Nice work, Mr. Mones!

  2. aspicco Says:

    Great pix. Been living in Hell’s Kitchen since Oct 1979. Wish the pix had addresses or specific locations attached to them… but still great.

  3. Les Says:

    Wonderful! We should all be thusly inspired to photograph seemingly “unimportant” street scenes 🙂

  4. Beth Says:

    These are great images of a colorful part of the city! I’d love to see more…

  5. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    It’s wonderful to see old New York. It changes every moment, every day, every week, month and year and sites as Ephemeral NY do us a great service in chronicling the events of the city’s long disappearing life. Paul Mones’ pictures are a wonder to us who just walked and passed life by on the way to something else. Bravo to you sir, you’ve taken your place in the city’s history!

  6. Upstate Ellen Says:

    Very cool! I have been sloooowly going through my own old photographs of street scenes and similar subjects. They’re from the early 1980s, but maybe someday people will find them of interest, too.

  7. wildnewyork Says:

    I would find them interesting today! The early 80s were 30 years ago, incredibly. New York has changed so much.

  8. Carol Says:

    Love the pictures! I lived in Hell’s Kitchen for about 10 years and it is great to see these old photos of the neighborhood!

  9. G.Ray Says:

    Love your photos Paul. Thanks for posting.

  10. Damon Campagna Says:

    Fear not, fair blogger! That “2 for 1” bar is still serving drinks. Nowadays it’s named the 9th Avenue Saloon, with a gay clientele. Before that name it was Cleo’s, going back at least to the mid-90’s. Somewhere along the line it lost that cool facade, though – possibly so a roll-down gate could be installed.

  11. 1970s Hell’s Kitchen storefronts gone forever « Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] I posted four of these wonderful moments of a vanished time: scenes of unglamorous shoppers and neighborhood folks going about their day. […]

  12. AliceB Says:

    I am a native-born Hell’s Kitchen B*tch, and I LOVE these pics. Now I have to see if I recognize anyone!

    BTW, are there any pics of the old Hippie/Head Shop that was on 48th & Broadway? Thanks.

  13. jessiemartinovic Says:

    wonderful images, accounts, looking forward to reading more

  14. Sinead Murphy Says:

    I am an Irish film maker currently working on a documentary about the changing face of Hells Kitchen. I am working with an American producer who lives in the neighbourhood. I would love to contact Paul Mones and see more of his photos. I would appreciate if you could pass on my details. I will be travelling to New York in November 2016

  15. Bob Pasek Says:

    Name of French Restaurant on 9th and 53rd in the 70’s ?

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