Posts Tagged ‘East Village 1980s’

The magic of old Cooper Square by moonlight

June 2, 2016

Here is a moonlit Cooper Square under a starry sky looking north around 1905.

It’s not a square but a triangular park, a juncture of elevated train routes and avenues, a place where old neighborhood boundaries shifted (like the early 19th century Bowery Village) and new ones (Noho, anyone?) popped up.


It’s a carnival of history. On the right are modest Federal-style homes with dormer windows, built in the 1820s. Cooper Union’s 1858 Great Hall hosted presidential hopefuls going back to Abraham Lincoln.

A sketchier, pre-boutique hotel Cooper Square in late 1980s was also the site of a peddlers’ market of sorts, where the desperate put out anything they could find (or steal) for sale in an empty parking lot.

A map of the trendy 1983 East Village art scene

July 21, 2014

“East Village galleries are multiplying like white rats,” wrote Carlo McCormick in the East Village Eye in October 1983.


“What was once a small handful of peculiarly out-of-place storefronts that even this rag ignored is now an ever-increasing network of more credible and slicker galleries being written about by the likes of the Voice, the N. Y. Times, Art News, Arts Magazine, and Art in America plus a host of Japanese and European magazines that always seem to know what’s going on here before we do.”


While the 1980s East Village art scene went bust before it could live up to the promise laid out in the article, this accompanying map gives a small sense of the neighborhood 31 years ago.

Another East Village Eye guide from 1985 runs down the club scene and bars where you’d be drinking if you lived there in the Reagan era.

Hmm, how many of these addresses are now fro-yo shops or bank branches?

A punk rock shrine in the 1980s East Village

March 25, 2013

“This is where the hard-core kids come to outfit themselves,” states a 1987 New York write-up about Trash & Vaudeville, the punk rock clothing mecca launched in 1975 that’s responsible for the Ramones’ leather jackets and introducing Doc Martens to the U.S.


Their early 1980s ads are great. This one comes from the September 1984 issue of the East Village Eye, and based on the guys’ suits, it looks like the store is trying to cater to a less hardcore crowd.


The best-sellers today? Kid-size leather jackets and a top hat a la Slash.

A 1983 art show on the Williamsburg Bridge

October 25, 2012

Could this May 1983 ad be the first sign of the coming artist colonization and eventual gentrification of Williamsburg?

Published in the now-defunct downtown arts monthly East Village Eye, it promoted an outdoor sculpture exhibition set up on the Delancey Street side of the empty and decrepit Williamsburg Bridge.

98 Bowery, a website that chronicles the East Village/Lower East Side arts scene of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, has a writeup and photos of the Williamsburg Bridge Show, as it was known:

“The neglected promenade seemed like the perfect place for a large-scale sculpture show. For two years, the sculptors grappled with the strict requirements imposed by the city’s Department of Transportation, which administers the deteriorating bridge.”

“The opening coincided with the centennial celebration of the Brooklyn Bridge, a synchrony which attracted attention to the show. The works, however, also attracted vandals and thieves, and a number of sculptures disappeared before a week had passed.”

You might recognize at least one artist’s name: Tom Otterness. He’s the sculptor behind those whimsical brass figures and critters at the Eighth Avenue and 14th Street subway station.

An East Village nightlife guide from 1985

June 20, 2011

A lot has changed in the 26 years since the East Village Eye published this guide to the neighborhood’s coolest bars and restaurants (bar drinks $1 till 10 pm, for starters).

The Ritz went back to being known as Webster Hall; CBGB, Downtown Beirut, and 8BC, among others, bit the dust; and perhaps strangest of all: the Palladium is now Palladium Hall, a towering New York University dormitory.

A couple of clubs on the Bowery in 1983

September 15, 2010

About a hundred years before this ad ran in the East Village Eye, 261 Bowery was the decades-long home of Mike Lyons Restaurant.

It was a refuge for politicians, musicians, raconteurs, and other characters who populated the Bowery’s dance-hall heyday.

In 1983, it housed the Buskers Club, a short-lived rock venue.

A little bit north at no. 315 was CBGB’s. This New Wave-y ad also comes from a 1983 East Village Eye.

Does anyone know what happened to Unknown Gender—and Huge Killer Ship and Wild Wild West, for that matter?

Soda and smack on Avenue D

November 7, 2009

Suburban drug-seeking kids of the 1980s: the cops from the East Village’s Ninth Precinct never believed your stories of randomly getting mugged on Avenue D on your way back to Great Neck.

Here’s what one detective had to say to The Soho News on March 16, 1982:


Later in the article, the reporter quotes another cop calling Avenue D “the world’s largest retail drug market.” 

A short-lived club in the 1980s East Village

May 6, 2009

Before wine bars, bank branches, and sushi restaurants took over the East Village, there were hole-in-the-wall clubs like 8BC, a gallery and performance space on Eighth Street between Avenues B and C. Opened in 1983, the place was over by the end of 1985.


The club is long-gone, but the tenement building still stands today. Of course, the art and graffiti has all been cleaned off and the facade spruced up and bricked over. And instead of empty lots, it’s flanked on both sides by gardens.

Writer murders writer in the East Village

March 4, 2009

Jack Henry Abbott was a career criminal who had spent the majority of his life in prison. But in the late 1970s, he made one important connection on the outside: Norman Mailer. 


Mailer and Abbott corresponded though letters. Mailer, impressed with Abbott’s writing style, agreed to help him publish In the Belly of the Beast, reprinting those letters detailing Abbott’s life behind bars.

In the Belly of the Beast met with critical acclaim. Soon after it was published, Mailer and other literati sponsored Abbott’s early parole. Mailer gave Abbott a job as his research asisstant, and Abbott moved into a halfway house on East Third Street. He was partying it up with writers and Barnard coeds.

He wasn’t free to party for long. Just six weeks later, on July 18, 1981, he stopped in for breakfast at Binibon, a 24-hour cafe and artists’ hangout on Second Avenue and Fifth Street. 


 Abbott got up to look for a rest room, but a 22-year-old waiter, Richard Adan—son-in-law of Binibon’s owner and an aspiring writer—told him that customers were prohibited from using it.

Abbott began arguing with Adan, and the two went outside, where Abbott stabbed Adan to death.

Caught in Louisiana a few weeks later, Abbott was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 15 years to life. He committed suicide in prison in 2002.

Mailer later said he felt “completely responsible” for Abbott’s actions. 

Now the Madras Cafe, this was Binibon in 1981, at 79 Second Avenue