Tuesday, June 20, 2023

A subway ride from Union Square to Coney Island on this day in 1987


In case you haven't seen this clip from 1980s NYC nightlife videographer Nelson Sullivan ... it has made the rounds through the years ... and it seems appropriate on its 36-year anniversary...

Here's the description:
Enjoy the sights and the graffiti as Nelson, photographer Liz Lizard and her family, Michael Musto and Albert Crudo, take the subway from Union Square to Coney Island on June 20, 1987...
Sullivan's video archive was donated to NYU's Fales Library & Special Collections in 2012.


Scuba Diva said...

"New York's Favorite Soap"! Gonna need a lot of that!

Anonymous said...

Wow look how dirty the subway was back then.

Anonymous said...

@5:27am: Dirty, yes, but not crime-ridden the way it is these days. I've ridden the subway for over 60 years and I'll take "dirty" over what we have now.

These days I have to presume that my life is at risk at any time, on any day, just standing on the platform, waiting for a train.

Sarah said...

I'm not crazy squeamish, but imagine letting your bare skin and hair touch those surfaces!!!

Anonymous said...

It's actually safer than it was in 1987


Anonymous said...

Great clip!!!!! The film, Smithereens, is another great look into the past of this neighborhood which means not everything interesting or "dirty" is so easy to speak of which you know not. Thanks EVGRIEVE!

FYI________Go early to Vote!!!!!!!!!!

jack said...

Graffiti has certainly improved since then.

@11:51 AM > Not crime ridden in the late 80s? With crack? uh ... I was here as well and my memories are closer to the statistics.

My theory about why we get so much MORE DANGEROUS THAN EVAH histrionics is we have so much media now. Friend's freaking out when Citizen alerts come in about a knife robbery 35 blocks away. If we'd had Citizen in the 80s it would have melted down.

From Wikipedia, which is never ever wrong (but there are citations for the skeptical: "The highest crime totals were recorded in the late 1980s and early 1990s as the crack epidemic surged."

From citation: "In 1990, New Yorkers were being murdered at a record clip of nearly 2,500 a year."

And then it fell off. Lead gasoline? Decline of crack? Only so many bad guys to go around.

Anonymous said...

I had just just graduated HS when that film was taken and had plenty of solo subway riding experience by 1987.

It somehow felt a little different then. Then as now it was considered good practice to lay low and be alert. Well, the "be alert" part seems to have faded in this day and age of headphones and screens.

Never wanted to "look funny" at anyone lest they take offense. And there was gang activity too.

I may be/have been a bit naieve though. Fear of mugging was omnipresent.

What feels different now is that a lot of the recent events seem much more random. I don't remember as many people being randomly slashed or senselessly pushed in front of trains. Not on the current weekly basis. Or maybe it wasn't reported on as much back then.

Anonymous said...

The good ol' days. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

@5:10 PM: Uh, yeah, I've been in NYC since I was born, and I've been living in the East Village since the 70's, when the "crime" here worried my family in the outer boroughs.

The subways were MUCH SAFER then, that's all I can say! You mention "crack" - which was a problem on the street, for sure, but never even once for me in the subway system (which I rode 5-7 days a week).

Big difference between THEN & NOW:

- Back THEN, people looked at each other, talked to each other, looked at their surroundings, registered what they were seeing.

-NOW, most people are in a deeply committed relationship with their cell phone, from which they barely ever look up. They don't start a random conversation with other riders, they don't ask a question (b/c why do that when there's google?), and too many of them are actually unaware of their surroundings.

In response to your "My theory about why we get so much MORE DANGEROUS THAN EVAH histrionics": My neighbor was walking home from doing errands when some random guy ran up behind her, pushed her to the ground, and ran away. He didn't steal anything from her, and fortunately she was not badly injured, but this all happened RANDOMLY and within 1 block of her apartment, in broad daylight.

I also have friends who live in midtown, in a nice area, and they have TWICE had the same thing happen to them: they were out for a walk on a nice summer evening when a random man ran up behind them and shoved the husband hard onto the ground, and then ran off. This happened to them once on PARK AVENUE near 50th Street, and a few months later just south of Central Park in the West 50's.

Were these men crazy, homeless, drunk, or just doing something for "fun" or for "clicks" online? Who knows! Yet YOU think that's "histrionics".

It's not histrionic to be afraid of what happens far too often and totally randomly, especially when it's something that (if you hit your head when you're pushed down) could kill you. It's called "common sense" to be appropriately afraid of a known danger around you.

The insanity going on now is NOT what we had happening in the 80's as far as I saw in the East Village.

PS: NEVER use Wikipedia as your source if you want to be taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

Wikipedia is more useful in its ability to paint an entire picture than your anecdotal evidence

Anonymous said...

Ah yes. "Meet my on the first car". From the pre-cell phone days. How else to catch up with a friend on the same line without a real-time tracking device?

I used to meet up on the steps of City Hall on weekends with friends from the outer boroughs or out of town. Because it was a convenient central nexus and was a relatively sleepy non armed-camp area at the time.

Anonymous said...

Way less people rode the trains back then. In 1985 it was 1 billion passengers in a year. In 2021 it was almost 1.7 billion. Look at the video. There is no one on the train for a Saturday summer trip to Coney Island.

Anonymous said...

I hope in 40 years someone post a video of waking around when the Canadian smoke came through. And the EVGrieve commenters say how great it was back then and how could you possible compare that to the gentrified air now, in 2043.

Anonymous said...

I wish there was more footage of the Union Square station on the mezzanine level. As I recall it looked totally different than it does now, and there were a lot of little vendors with their metal roll-up gates. Anyone know of any other good videos with this kind of footage?