Posts Tagged ‘1980s New York City’

Studio 54 invites you to a party in the 1980s

August 17, 2015

Opened in 1977, Studio 54 continues to hold up as an emblem of late 1970s exclusivity and disco decadence.

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After Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager sold the club in 1981, it still attracted crowds—though not quite the way it did during its heyday.

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Instead of velvet ropes keeping people out, the club seemed to do everything they could to pack patrons in, apparently by hosting very mainstream events and giveaways.

It looks like anyone and their guest who could pay the $8-$12 gained entry.

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A party for the premiere of The Search for Spock? It doesn’t sound like the movie is even part of the itinerary.

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The club closed for good in 1991, long after its cache was over.

These party invites are part of the digital collection of the Museum of the City of New York.

The commuters in the Port Authority bus station

June 20, 2013

Toward the mostly-empty Ninth Avenue side of the Port Authority Bus Terminal are three tired, rumpled workers waiting by a departure door for a bus to bring them back to the Jersey suburbs.

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“The Commuters,” by sculptor George Segal, have been standing patiently in line here since 1982.

This triptych is an homage to the hordes who pass through the Port Authority’s grimy, fluorescent-lit interior each morning and again in the evening, year after year.

Portauthoritybusterminal“These are long-suffering people,” Segal said in a 1982 People article. “I have a high regard for them.”

Cast in bronze and white patina, they resemble some of Segal’s other work, such as the male and female couples in Christopher Park, the little triangle at Sheridan Square.

Segal viewed aimed to depict commuters as heroic. No wonder these three have struck a chord over the years.

Nell’s: The trendiest nightclub in 1980s New York

August 30, 2012

Where did rock stars, artists, Wall Street traders, models, and the people who hung around them in mid-1980s Manhattan go to mingle?

Nell’s, a former electronics store-turned-nightclub on West 14th Street near Eighth Avenue. It was supposed to be a throwback of sorts, a retreat from the Studio 54 kind of excess.

The space cultivated the look of an elegant, Victorian gentleman’s club—one with a velvet rope, tough door policy, and lines stretching around the block.

This ad, which ran in the November 1993 issue of Interview gives a quick look at some of the regulars (Quentin Crisp? Salmon Rushdie?). By the early 1990s, however, Nell’s had lost some of its cachet, reports a 1994 New York Times article.

Nell’s closed in 2004, but will always be remembered as a 1980s hangout. Even Patrick Bateman, Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, was a regular.

Long-defunct clubs of 1980s Manhattan

April 12, 2012

They’re physically gone, but these performance spaces still live on in vintage newspaper ads—in this case the September 1984 issue of monthly East Village arts paper East Village Eye.

It must have been rough getting over to Chandalier, between Eighth and Ninth Streets off Avenue C. In 1984, this wasn’t exactly gentrified territory.

“The door opens onto a long narrow room, the front half of which serves as the performance space and seating area,” states this reference. “The back half houses the wooden bar with several wobbly stools, a fireplace that doesn’t seem to work, and piecemeal old furniture where spectators sit waiting for the performance to start.”

Today the building houses a hardware store.

The Shuttle, not far away on East Sixth Street between Avenues A and B, opened in 1984. A former squat, the space hosted readings, art exhibits, and East Village character/character actor Rocket Redglare’s cabaret show.

121 West 31st Street is an unmarked storefront, and almost no trace of Pizza a Go Go—a former dance club?—remains.

But there is this reference to the place; it’s on a page of party pics featuring a young Madonna and other cool kids from a monthly paper called NY Talk.

Vintage clothes for cool early-1980s kids

July 16, 2010

I’d never heard of East Side Story, but judging by this ad in a 1983 issue of the East Village Eye, it must have been stocked with sweet vintage finds.

Muscle sweat T-shirts and cotton zipper jackets I remember. But Bundeswehr shirts?

Today, 227 East 59th Street is occupied by a cabinet store. A quick search for East Side Story turned up no trace of the store or when it folded.

Notorious welfare hotel: The Martinique

August 27, 2008

Welfare hotel—now that’s a term you don’t hear much anymore, unlike in the 1970s and 1980s; in response to a growing homeless crisis back then, the city put up thousands of families in shoddy, rundown hotels across the five boroughs. 

No hotel epitomized New York’s bad old days like the Martinique, on 32nd and Broadway. The 16-story building started out in 1910 as an elegant French Renaissance–style residence in what was then part of the theater district. But as the theater district moved north, the Martinique slid into decline. By 1974, the city was warehousing homeless families there.

Newspapers were always running stories about the harsh life in the Martinique: families cooking on hot plates, creepy characters in the halls, spray-painted numbers on the doors. Finally, by the late 80s, the city emptied out the Martinique and other welfare hotels for good.

Today it’s a much spiffier place, renamed the Radisson Martinique. The original building details and sign remain.