Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The East Village NYC, circa 1992

Believe it or not, there is a better reason for this blog being named Alphabet City than just a stretch at the figurative, or a play on words. I used to actually live in the East Village, and afterwards I still went to school and then worked in both the East Village and Alphabet City. But this blog is nearly ten years old, if you can believe it, and I've since moved on with my life.  And I've just never renamed it.

I've had this long-term scanning project going on that I'll probably never finish on my own. These are photos I first scanned 5 or 6 years ago now and just found again tonight, but that I actually took when I lived on 1st Avenue in 1992, just after the Tompkins Square Park Riot and just before the Squatter Riots. It's hard to find photos of the area at that time so I thought somebody might enjoy these. The neighborhood back then was a lot different than the New Jersey bar-hopping crowd is used to these days...

There was a lot more creative graffiti at that time - it wasn't just the stupid tagging that exists now. The neighborhood was so ugly in parts that a lot of landlords actually contracted stuff like this, or at least encouraged it to cover the tags.

Dig that 3D effect. That is actually crazy hard to do. I mean, from what I understand.

I used to love this dragon. Whoever painted that had some serious skills with a spray can.

But this is what most of the neighborhood looked like. I am not sure why I took this photo. The most interesting thing to me about it now is that according to the sign in the top right, something apparently cost 25 cents. Nothing costs 25 cents in New York City anymore.

6th Street. I'm sure I was trying to show all the Indian restaurants, which are mostly still there.

You could pretty much count on seeing a couple of cop cars and an ambulance close by any time you stepped out your front door in those days. This was a high crime area. It's hard to overstate that - it was really a whole different way of thinking about life, and I am glad now that I don't have to live that way anymore. This scene was common but I think I took this photo to show a friend somewhere else.

This was one of the common tags around the neighborhood - you'd see this everywhere.

The 9th precinct, as seen at that time in "NYPD Blue." (They called it the 15th, but it was the 9th.)

This was also typical of what most of the neighborhood looked like. This was the middle of the day.

This was a junkyard or something on Avenue A; I am not totally sure because I didn't go there that much even though I only lived one block over. At that time, unless you lived there, you probably didn't have much reason to venture beyond 1st Avenue, and crime got progressively worse the further east you went. I knew a guy who lived on Avenue D and he told me he got chased home pretty much every night - it was almost like a game. I always pictured it like that sped-up scene in "A Christmas Story" where Scut Farkus is chasing Ralphie home. Or like the Keystone Kops, except with bad guys instead of cops.

This was my street - 3rd St. and 1st Ave. (The corner is right behind me here.) Dance Tracks was a pretty cool indie record store that sold (wait for it) dance music.

And that was my building on the left. The Hell's Angels headquarters was more or less across the street and I could watch them out my window. The NYPD hated them and did all they could to shut them down, but they were really good neighbors. They were quiet and kept to themselves, and believe me, nobody messed with anyone on 3rd St. because that was their territory. This was the safest block in the neighborhood. I never even heard so much as a car get broken into.

Maybe I'll post more after I scan some more stuff, or find more scans I've already done and lost (I swear I remember more from this era than this).

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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