Thursday, August 28, 2014

An East Village then-and-now photo project featuring 1984


[222 E. Third St. then and now]

Earlier this week, East Village resident Daniel Root shared a new photo project with us, a Tumblr titled EV NY: 30 yrs and now.

The site is pretty straightforward. Per its description:

Photographer Daniel Root documented the East Village in 1984. Today, he revisits the locations and documents their current state.

In addition to the then-and-now shots, Root added a photo of the contrasting scenes at the sites.




[119 Avenue C]

How did all this come about?

"I have been living here since the summer of 1984," Root told us via email on Tuesday. "At the time a friend of a friend wanted to write a book about the changing East Village and she wanted some photographs to pitch the book. The book was never written. Last year it occurred to me that those photographs were about to be 30 years old and I thought to hang them approximately where they were shot. The Tumblr site was a relatively recent addition prompted by a friend."


[174 Avenue A]


[141 Avenue A]


[307 E. 8th St.]

"I think what struck me the most while looking at the 'then vs now' shots is how much cleaner, neater and orderly things looks now," Root said. "On the other hand, a number of places don't look that different. For example, the Pyramid and the southwest corner of Tompkins Square Park."

Find more of his then-and-now shots here.

29 comments:

Scuba Diva said...

222 East 3rd street is a trashy, crappy building—as are most buildings of that vintage—"luxury" or not. Just sayin'.

East Village Today said...

Very interesting. Unfortunately, I'm sure there are many here who will think it looked better in 1984.

The Police/Fire call-box outside Doc Holiday's hasn't changed a bit!

Anonymous said...

The Pharmacy! !!!

Anonymous said...

I moved into the neighborhood Ave C and 6th St in 1981. A good part of my surroundings looked like Berlin at the end of 1945. It was rough to say the least. It was also the least expensive place to live but being a student I managed to adapt with little heat in the winter, seldom hot water and sometime no water and constant break ins. Drug were rampant the way foodie themed restaurants are today. We had drug tourism the way we have food tourism with people coming into the hood to score and quickly leave. There were a lot of cool stuff happening in legit and not so legit clubs then. Ave A which was like Park Ave compared to everything east of it, I only felt safe when I reached it. Let's not fool ourselves though and say "things were so much better" when they were not in many ways. People were overdosing and shooting up in public. My apartment on 5th street always had people freebasing on the stairwell, once I past them I was greeted by the drug dealer's guard which held a sawed off shot guy. There was a sweet period here from the mid-90's until 2005 when things got civilized but not boring. The city had forgotten the neighborhood existed and developers would laugh if you mentioned it. You all know the rest of the story.

Jill W said...

Great collection! Thanks Daniel Root for making them public.

Anonymous said...

great exhibit, great idea - we happened on a few of the posted photos last night. A tale of the city.

DrBOP said...

Mind.....blown.

But then I thought what a feature like this would look like comparing pics from the early 1960s (when I hit town) to today.....and then I realized that was FIFTY YEARS AGO!

Mind....BLOWN!

Dan C. said...

Really interesting. What's even more odd/sad, having lived in the EV since the early 80s, is that some of these sites had several buildings/incarnations in between 1984 and 2014. The one with the kids playing in the brick pile on 11th and A? There was another building there before this one now.

Paul Battaglia said...

Here's a before and after. The apartment I grew up in, 103 Avenue A, Apt. 5A, rent in 1984 $400 a month, now $4200 a month...

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon, you hit the nail on the head with this: "There was a sweet period here from the mid-90's until 2005 when things got civilized but not boring." That's the thing. The city passed through that point and that's where a lot of us wish it had stated. New York was at its best ever when it was still itself and was safe.

A little while ago I said...

I miss the mid-90s New York so goddamn fucking much.

Makeout said...

Nice. I like seeing those then & now shots of any place. Like that Bop kid said "mind blowing".

Anonymous said...

So this.sweet spot.occurred.while Rudy Giuliani was the.mayor. Amazing because he was so unpopular. I mean he sent.tanks to.the squats for.gods sake

Anonymous said...

I'd take an empty lot over another college dorm any day. There. I said it.

Scuba Diva said...

A little while ago I said...

I miss the mid-90s New York so goddamn fucking much.


Me too!

shmnyc said...

I think is says a lot that so many people here miss Giuliani-time.

moe said...

Those of you who think Giuliani was so universally despised need to broaden your conversation circles a bit. The broadest consensus seems to be that while kind of a prick, he was a necessary evil in a city really put of control. I didn't like his personal and often illegal vendetta against the squatters either, but I took the good with the bad.
And I very much agree with that sweet spot like 1996 to 2005. You could still grab a bag of coke in any one of 7 or 8 bodegas on B, yet you could get back to place to blast some lines without getting stabbed in the belly.
Paradise!

Anonymous said...

@2:27 Please. Stop that. Annoying thing you. Keep. Doing with the. Periods. It peaked. On the NYU. Post.

Gojira said...

What I see when I look at the entire run of photos is, in the 1980s there was dirt, abandoned buildings, graffiti, but there was also a lot of interesting and colorful street life with some real characters, individuals all. In 2014 there are a lot of pretty buildings with fences to keep out the riffraff, lots of sterile buildings, and lots of bland people. Call me crazy, misguided, insane, whatever, but I'd still take the dangerous 80s over the stultifyingly boring - whatever they call these years - any day.

Oh and the cars were way better back then, too.

moe said...

Cars better in the 80's? The combination of rising gas prices, new emissions standards, and uninspired corporate groupthink made the 80's the worst decade for cars ever. Think Chrysler K-cars.
On the other hand, I liked the streets down here in the 80's pretty well myself, but I was a half-drunk 20-something street guy, and even then I knew that it was definitely, well, not for everyone. To quote Tom Waits, "lovers of, action, maybe".

shmnyc said...

moe, I don't think Giuliani was universally despised. In fact, I'm not surprised at all that so many here (this area) like him. I've always thought the East Village was provincial.

Anonymous said...

First things, cars were hella more interesting then than today. I was watching so bad TV last night and one car commercial came on after the other and I thought every one of them, high to low end look exactly the same???

Rudy Giuliani was the ferrets that got the rats out and his first term was a necessary evil. He did not know when to stop and by his second term most New Yorker were fed up of his telling us how to live. He did show leadership during the WTC attacks and was a sane voice to get the city through it. Bloomberg pulled the wool over our collected eyes by sticking planters with pretty flowers all over streets to make us feel good while he made back room deals with mega corps and gave tax breaks to developers and sold OUR city owned land to them. Hindsight is 20/20.

Scuba Diva said...

Arlene Gottfried has also been taking amazing street shots since the 70s and before; you should check out her work.

Personally, I hated Giuliani; I was jailed four times during his reign of terror. That said, I miss the 90s—even though I'd never want to relive them.

scottiman said...

I have been in the EV since the mid 80s and also miss the all creative energy that used to exist here amongst all the chaos. After spending many years bitching about the changes I realized that the battle was lost once the city rezoned below Houston and large parts of industrial Brooklyn (e.g. Williamsburg) for luxury hi-rises. The battle is lost and I have come to realize that bitching about what we cannot change/stop only injures oneself mentally. Many people, like Clayton, have decide to move somewhere more conducive to the old EV artist mentality. So, instead of bitching on EVGrieve, it would be much better if we launch a parallel blog called EVOuttaHere which talks about how old school EV people have found a new location/country where the rent is cheap enough and the communities are welcoming enough that artistic types and like minded people can flourish. I know such places still exist (e.g Detroit). It is just a case of finding them and working out how to move there are make a living. Personally parts of Europe look much more attractive, but if I was younger I would be buying a burnt out loft in Detroit and start building my own world. The crime there now cannot be any rougher than old EV - and I survived that fine.

FMC said...

Dan D. 11:13,

When I got here in '89, the lot on 11th and Ave A was a parking lot, as was the lot on 13th and A where the quasi-Irish bar is now. $125, if memory serves, for a monthly parking space.

Anonymous said...

@anon 8:49, You're absolutely right, 2005 is when I noticed things really start to go downhill. That's the year the frat-boy douchebags moved in next door to me, and it was the beginning of the end.

I had briefly lived in the EV in 1988. It was unlike any other place then, gritty and raw. It was just before the city closed Thompkins Sq. Park and cleaned it up. Still, I have fantastic memories of
(good) House music pumping out of a little bar on (deserted) e7th st on a hot summer night. The EV had a unique energy then.

I moved back to the city in 91, back to the EV. It was as quiet as the country at night. Still completely deserted, yet still had a creative energy and was filled with interesting people. A sign of the times then was that if you went out in a different neighborhood, people could tell where you were from (in the city). I used to hear all time: "oh yea, you look very East Village". The neighborhood still had an identity.

Now it's just an expensive dorm.

@Scottiman, i finally left last year. Believe me, NYC is just as boring now as any other place, except other places allow you to pursue other things besides rent. This myth/idea that all creative endeavors must take place in NYC is just that; a myth, especially in the age of the internet. So you're right, instead of (constantly) complaining about something that's not going to change, I got out. Others (who complain) should do the same. Because, as you said, constantly bitching about it only makes one incredibly bitter.

A "re-location" blog would be interesting.

Gojira said...

Dan C., missed your post. The building that used to stand on 11th and A was a giant abandoned pile called Paradise Alley; it had a central courtyard and the apartments all opened up to a balcony/walkway that ran around the inner edges of the building. It got demolished around 1984, if memory serves, but it was a fascinating place to explore and salvage things from before the wreckers came.

Anonymous said...

8:47, I'd like to read it, but a re-location blog would probably just give the rabid developers a helping hand in following the artists and interesting people to the next location so they can gentrify them out of those spaces too. If you find a good place, whatever you do don't blog about it.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how people keep saying that things are better now than in the 90s, how we used to have so many druggies around and now they are gone. In fact the number of deaths from overdoses has more than doubled since then, buy you just don't see it on the street as much since the ODs are mostly from prescription drugs. Drug overdoes cause more deaths than auto accidents, but now people get their drugs from doctors and crooked pharmacies instead of the dealer on the corner. I guess thats an improvement since you can use your health insurance instead of cash, but lets not pretend that the politicians cleaned up the drug problem ,they just enabled a more invisible system of drug abuse for the healthcare providers to profit from.