Friday, December 8, 2017

30 years of some of our favorite photos 1987-2017.

For our annual year end review, we decided to highlight some of the photos that have meant the most to us from the past 30 years and the stories behind them.

D'Auria & Sons Pork Store in the Little Italy of the #Bronx, which was in business from 1938-2006. Photo taken using 35mm film in 2004 and pictured in the photo is the 2nd generation owner Mike D'Auria who told us that what makes his sausages special are the TLC (tender loving care). Mike also told us that he was not the "marrying kind" and had no children of his own to take over the family business when he retired, which tempted us to learn the trade from him so that we could keep the business alive. Photo and full interview with Mike appears in our book "Store Front:The Disappearing Face of New York".

Kay's Candy, Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, NYC. Katy's was founded in 1969 by Katy Keyzer. When we photographed this candy shop in 2004 for our book, "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York" we interviewed Katy and she told us that she, "has been through the dope, crack, and everything else this neighborhood has thrown at me. I speak three languages, English, Spanish and Motherfucker. You've got to be tough to survive around here." Sadly Katy was forced to close her business in 2007 when the landlord raised her rent very high in order to ged rid of her and convert the building into a luxury condo. To this day, the #storefront remains empty, which saddens us deeply. 

Old barber shop storefront with American Flag, Brooklyn, NYC. We love the patina of this faded storefront in a neighborhood that has undergone extreme gentrification and modernization. It truly is a time capsule.
A man named Tanaka, living in the abandoned Old Port Morris Branch train tracks in the #Bronx underneath one of its overpasses. He let us borrow his flashlight when it started to get dark as we walked through the tunnels. The flashlight we had brought with us had died. We gave him $10.00. In recent years, homelessness in #newyorkcity has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Each night thousands of un-sheltered homeless people sleep on New York City streets, in the subway system, and in other public spaces. There is no accurate measurement of the city's un-sheltered #homeless population. 
Smoke from a car fire on the 59th Street Bridge over the East River created an unusual scene of the Silvercup Studio signage and Manhattan skyline as seen from a rooftop in Long Island City Queens, NYC, just before sunset.
Ralph’s Discount City in TriBeCa. We chose this photo for the cover of our book “Store Front:The Disappearing Face of New York” for two reasons; 1. we absolutely loved the unique #font used for its #signage and 2. we had a personal attachment to this store which sold a wide variety of products (always stuffed into the blue shopping bag seen in the photo) and were saddened when it closed in 2007. The building this #storefront was located in was torn down to make way for a new luxury condo. 
Lenox Lounge circa 2013. The writing on the boarded-up door says it all, "1939-2012, 80 Years For This". We started revisiting and photographing many of the small independent businesses we documented over 10 years earlier for our book "Store Front:The Disappearing Face of New York" and this photo is truly one of the saddest. After Alvin Reed was forced out of the Lenox Lounge #storefront in 2012 after a rent increase of $10,000 to $20,000 a month, he took most of the iconic Art Deco interior and facade including the #neon #signage with its amazing #font. He hoped to reopen the #jazz lounge nearby but money troubles and litigation with his original landlord has delayed those plans. The landlord leased the original space to Richie Notar, of restaurant Nobu fame so that he could reopen the jazz #bar but that deal also fell through and now the original Lenox Lounge has sat abandoned since 2012. #Harlem truly lost a piece of its history!
Joe's Dairy, South Village. Joe's Dairy was founded in 1977 but was operating as a dairy store called Frank and Al's Dairy for over 40 years prior. It specialized in #homemade Mozzarella both regular and smoked flavors, which were made on premises. In this photo taken in 2008 for our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York", the owner's father is relaxing outside the #storefront after having hydrated and marinated sun-dried tomatoes which they also sold at the shop. Sadly this #Mozzarella store closed in 2013, which came as a surprise to many but the owner Anthony had told us in 2008 that "When I am ready to retire, it (Mozzarella making) will probably be a lost art in my family because I have a daughter but I won't allow her to do this. It's a lot of hard work. It's not that a woman couldn't do it, but you have to get up really early and work long hard hours." Full interview and photo appears in our "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York".
Bomb Scare, Times Square, NYC. Police had cleared this area which is usually packed with tourists, leaving behind a very unusual site, Times Square, devoid of people.
Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks, East River, NYC. After years of the fireworks being on the west side of Manhattan, while we live on the far East Side, we were finally treated to the return of this spectacular rooftop view.
Washington Square Park arch in Greenwich Village, NY lit with the French national colors in solidarity with the citizens of France in November, 2015. Our hearts went out to the citizens of Paris and all of the amazing residents we met when we had traveled there. We loved the mirror image of the lit arch as seen when framing the water which was still present in the fountain but had been turned off for the season. 
Our pitbull Tabasco (R.I.P.) on the roof of graffiti Mecca 5 Pointz (R.I.P.) Long Island City, Queens, NYC. The entire 5 Pointz complex with all of its graffiti-covered walls was whitewashed before being torn down in 2014. The graffiti artists took the developer to court to argue that the Visual Artists Rights Act, which grants artists limited rights over work they created but do not own, entitles them to monetary damages for the destruction of their art. The final outcome in the case is still pending.
Our rescue pitbull Hudson on an abandoned baby grand piano on the banks of the East River, under The Brooklyn Bridge, NYC. This baby grand piano mysteriously washed up along the shore in Lower Manhattan underneath the Brooklyn Bridge in June 2014. Our curious and bold dog couldn't resist this photo op.
The Wonder Wheel, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NYC. The Wonder Wheel, which operates today as part of @denoswonderwheelpark was erected in 1920 and is 150 feet high, has a diameter of 140 feet and holds 144 people at once. There are 16 swinging cars which roll back and forth between the outer and inner wheel of its unusual design and 8 stationary cars. Photo from 2010 appears in our book, "New York Nights" along with an interview with 2nd-generation owner Dennis Vourderis, who told us that the Wonder Wheel was a wedding gift from his father to his mother, "a ring so big that everyone in the world would see how much he loved her." We not only love riding the Wonder Wheel but always think of that beautiful story. 

Autumn, Union Square Park, NYC. This is one of our favorite parks in New York City and we will always remember how grungy it used to be in the 1980s. 
Ray's Candy Store on Avenue A in the East Village @rayscandystore was founded in 1974 by Ray Alvarez. Ray told us that he is one of the few stores near Tompkins Square Park that stays open 24 hours and that he was working behind the counter during the famous riot in 1988. Ray is a generous and sweet man, who always gives our dog, Hudson, free hot dogs when we stop by to visit. Exterior photo from 2009 appears in our book "Store Front II -A History Preserved". 
Cutting across Tompkins Square Park, East Village, NYC, in the snow, over by the Hare Krishna Tree, March 2017. We love how this winter wonderland scene is reflected in the melting snow on the ground.
Under The Williamsburg Bridge, East River, NYC, late... A major movie shoot illuminated the underside of our favorite bridge in an outer-worldly blue color. When we saw the massive lights from our East Village apartment (we face the bridge), we ran down to capture it and spent hours taking photographs.
Painters at Santiago Calatrava's World Trade Center Transportation Hub. This spiky controversial sculpture made of curved steel-ribbed walls, rising 160 feet is part of the recently opened $4 billion transportation hub connecting the Path trains and the subway lines in the downtown Financial district of Manhattan. Some people say it looks like a dove while others say it looks like a carcass but we like to think of it as a massive white rib cage. We were lucky to capture these men in their very high colorful cherry pickers painting it white. 

Staple Street skybridge in TriBeCa. We couldn't resist capturing the reflection of this historic skybridge which once connected the main building of the New York Hospitals House of Relief to its annex.
Lower Manhattan alley. On a search for bars to shoot at night we paused to take a photo of this silent cobblestone-lined alley.
Graffiti covered rooftops, Chinatown, NYC. When we first started documenting New York City graffiti in the late 1980s, it was just making its transition from the trains to the walls and rooftops of the city. Today, there are not that many places left that still have this amount of graffiti covering them.
Porn room, Under Manhattan, NYC. Exploring the tunnels of NYC we have encountered many things we found to be disturbing and shocking but nothing could have prepared us for this absolutely creepy and disgusting scene.
Zig Zag Records in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn. This #vinylrecord shop specialized in classic rock but also was popular in the 1980s for its heavy metal #vinyl selection. Sadly this #momandpop store closed in late 2010 after 35 years in business. We photographed it in 2005 for our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York" and spoke with the owner, Stan, who told us that the window had looked the same for years because the record companies no longer gave him posters for free as they had done in the 1980s and 1990s.
Astroland Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, NYC 2005. Astroland Park opened in 1962 and was sold in 2006 to Thor Equities. The rocket was taken down from the roof of Gregory & Paul's but the city preserved the famous Cyclone wooden roller coaster. 
Straight Out The Jungle graffiti wall by Bronx's TATS CRU. This is one of our favorite graffiti productions and appears in our 2002 book "Broken Windows: Graffiti NYC", which was reprinted in 2010 as a hardcover.
From a Midtown roof, NYC in 2016. We love how the city just seems to twinkle and go on forever.
Twin Towers, from Brooklyn, NYC. We had no idea when we photographed this scene years ago what it would mean to us post 9/11. Unimaginable.
Lower Manhattan, NYC. We love the layers of buildings, both old and new.
Water towers, from a rooftop, NYC. We have always had a fascination with water towers and love the variety seen in this photo.
No Rest. Empty coffin, hallway, abandoned asylum. In addition to photographing the streets, another passion of ours is exploring abandoned buildings, in particular, the large number of mental asylums found in and and around NYC.
The Wrong Number Cocktail Lounge in Brooklyn. We absolutely love the #signage for this cocktail 🍸 lounge because of the variety of pastel colors and the jaunty #font and script that were used! Whoever was the #sign maker for this one sure had fun.

Sunset, NYC. Few things are as magical as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline, especially when the water is twinkling with all of the reflected city lights.
No Relief. Empty pill bottles, abandoned asylum.
Liban Quarry, just outside Krakow, Poland. Arriving in Krakow, Poland where we would spend the next 5 days, we knew at least one of those days would be devoted to traveling to the site of the nearby Auschwitz concentration camp. That was our plan. But on our first day in Krakow, we heard from a local about an abandoned World War II Nazi work camp just outside the center of the city. The work camp was located in an old limestone quarry that was left to slowly decay and was mercifully being reclaimed by nature. Feeling that this might give us a unique perspective on the atrocities that took place not only in Poland, but across Europe not that long ago, we decided to hike across the Vistula River to get a better look. In an age where tolerance unimaginably seems to be brought into question again, we wanted a quiet and somehow more personal experience than we felt we would get in the tourist-heavy memorial and museum sites nearby.
Liberty Bridge, Budapest. Late at night, when the city seemed to be asleep, we were struck by the intricate beauty of this span connecting Buda and Pest across the Danube River in Hungary.
Substance D, Abandoned Asylum. Karla is in the bunny suit. The asylum had a large child population at one time and was closed when the absolutely horrific conditions could no longer be ignored.
Abandoned Power Plant, originally constructed in 1904-1906 and abandoned since 1963.
Photographing long dormant theaters is another passion of ours. Sometimes we are lucky enough to find original projection equipment and movie reels.
Hydrotherapy tub inside an abandoned asylum. We had read that patients were submerged in cold water for hours to "calm them down". We noticed the restraint hanging on the wall behind the tub while we were photographing the room. Without explanation, the temperature started to plummet dramatically. Even our pitbull's teeth started chattering wildly. The entire experience amounted to be our most creepiest exploration moment ever.
The Freedom Tunnel, West Side, NYC. This is one of the first tunnels we explored when we began documenting graffiti and New York City's underground in the 1980s. The "Freedom Tunnel" became more widely known in the mid 1990s when New York City earmarked millions of dollars to relocate the homeless "mole people" who were living in the tunnels.
Karla in the The Old Croton Aqueduct. This abandoned water tunnel once supplied New York City with its drinking water. It was completely dark and slippery inside this tunnel but James was able to use the light from Karla's flashlight and the reflections it created to get this photo.
Squat door, Berlin, Germany in 2012. We love all the layers of graffiti and welded metal on this doorway inside an old squat building in Berlin. Just like in our own neighborhood of the East Village of New York, where scenes like this were once very common, many areas of Berlin have been undergoing rapid gentrification. We are not sure if this squat still survives today. 
Mars Bar in the East Village with Roy, sitting outside. This #analog photo was taken in 2005 and appears in our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York". Roy, who passed away in 2010, was a fixture outside of this iconic #divebar and could also be found inside in the morning prepping it for the day. In 2011, this neighborhood bar closed after being in business since 1984 and the whole building was demolished to make way for a luxury apartment building. Today,  a shiny glass TD Bank branch stands in its place.
Vintage circular elevator photographed in Manhattan, NYC.
Atrium of 5 Beekman Street, in Lower Manhattan. This office building, once known as Temple Court, was built in 1882 and was one of the earliest surviving "fireproof" buildings of the pre-skyscraper era. In 1940, the atrium was boarded up due to new fire codes and the tenants did not even know that the atrium existed as they could only see a walled corridor. The building later was abandoned but when we visited the space a few years ago, the walls had been torn down prior to its renovation as the new Beekman Hotel. We spent about seven hours inside photographing every detail including the glass atrium and the ornate cast-iron balconies and patterned ceiling.
Main theater at the Village East Cinema in the East Village, NYC. Moviegoers at the Village East Cinema may be surprised to learn that they are visiting a recently restored New York City designated landmark. The Village East Cinema has a fascinating history as one of the last surviving “Yiddish Rialto” theaters along Second Avenue in the East Village. Today, the cinema is known for premiering many independent films and an eclectic mix of art and commercial releases. The theater’s most significant visual aspect, however, is its main auditorium’s ornate and colorful ceiling, which is regarded as having one of the most remarkable works of plaster craftsmanship in New York City.
Art installation by artist JR in Ellis Island's abandoned Contagious Disease Ward. We took a hard hat tour of the off-limits buildings of Ellis Island with Untapped Cities and visited the 1930s Ferry House building, the Laundry building, as well as the Contagious Disease Hospital buildings including the wards, morgue and maintenance facilities.  
Between 1901 and 1910, 8.8 million immigrants arrived in the United States, with 6 million processed at Ellis Island. Ferries and barges brought steerage passengers from steamships and by the early 1900s, around 5,000 people arrived at Ellis Island each day, with a record of 11,747 on April 17, 1907.  . Being in those buildings we could really get a sense of how it must have been for our relatives who passed through Ellis Island. We left the tour with such a deeper appreciation and understanding of the history of the island.
Katz's Delicatessen @katzsdeli on the Lower East Side was established in 1888. It is famous for its #Jewish #deli foods including its  hand-carved hot pastrami and corned beef sandwiches and its hot dogs 🌭. A ticket is given upon entering the #delicatessen, which serves as a bill that must be handed in when leaving. Their slogan "Send a Salami to Your Boy in the Army" started during World War II" when customers asked the owner what they could send their son who was serving in the military overseas. They still ship hard and soft #salami, pastrami, corned beef and other specialties nationwide! Photo and full interview with long-time manager Robert appear in our book "New York Nights". 
Nom Wah Tea Parlor is the oldest dim sum restaurant in Chinatown. It was founded in 1920 and us now being run by 2nd generation owner Wilson Tang. It's gorgeous #vintagesign was installed around 1968. Most of the interior is original including the lunch counter and stools. We love everything they serve but are especially fond of their dumplings. Photo appears in our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York".
Albanese Meats & Poultry in NoLita has been in business since 1923 and is the last Italian butcher shop in this Manhattan neighborhood. Moe Albanese, the second-generation owner (who is 93 yrs old) took over the shop from his mother. We photographed this #butcher in 2004 for our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York" and are happy to report that the #storefront really is unchanged including its #handpainted #signage, original butcher block, hooks, scales and #vintage tin ceiling. 
Vesuvio Bakery in SoHo. This Italian Bakery, which specialized in bread 🍞 and biscuits baked in its coal-fired ovens was in business from 1920 -2008. Even though the #storefront facade has remained largely unchanged in appearance, the business is no longer an Italian Bakery. Photo from 2004 appears in  our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York". 
Trash & Vaudeville in the East Village has been in business since 1975 and closed at St. Mark's Place after 41 years. It was founded by Ray Goodman and has been a popular place for musicians to get #‎punk #and #rockandroll clothing and accessories for decades. Jimmy Webb, the long-time manager told us "we are hands on and into personal customer service. We keep the spirit of #‎rockandroll alive." One of the reasons for closing this St. Mark's store was that the rent had risen to $45,000 a month. Although Ray Goodman is relocating the #‎store nearby on 96 East 7th Street. Photo is from our book New York Nights.
CBGB opened in 1973 and closed in 2006 when it lost its lease. CBGB became known as the birthplace of American punk rock, giving groups such as Television, The Ramones, Patti Smith, and Blondie their start. Photo from 2005 appears in our book "Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York".
On the fringes of the Bavarian Alps, Germany. We stumbled upon this meticulously maintained graveyard in the sleet and pouring rain while backpacking through the area. Despite the cold and windy conditions, we stopped to take this photo.
McSorley's Old Ale House, East Village, NYC. Our interior photograph shows its historic details such as the original wooden bar and pot-bellied stove; iconic tchotchkes adorning the walls, which run the gamut from shackles worn by a prisoner of war from the Civil War to a horseshoe that legend says came from one of the horses that pulled Abraham Lincoln’s hearse; and the fun-loving crowd that can be seen there on a typical day. We also chatted with Teresa Maher, the very first woman to work behind the bar in 1994.
Wenceslas Square, Prague, Czech Republic. We saw this view earlier in the day, but went back after sunset to capture this wide street in the golden hour.  Later that night we went roof-topping and took in the Prague skyline. We saw firsthand how the city got its name: “The city of one hundred spires.”
Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland. We love how the illuminated castle is reflected in the water and this photo really captures the quiet elegance and beauty of this European city.
Abandoned Monastery, Czech Republic. After a four hour bus ride out side of Prague, we arrived at this small village, where we spent the night among these ruins.
We love photographing "dead buildings". We even named our first NYC graffiti book "Broken Windows" as a play on Mayor Guiliani's "broken window" policing strategy at that time to combat graffiti and petty crimes as well as the actual broken windows we encountered while photographing murals painted by graffiti artists in abandoned buildings in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Harlem and Queens.
Russ & Daughters Appetizers in the Lower East Side has been in business since 1914. It is now being run by fourth-generation owners Joshua Russ Tupper and Niki Russ Federman. The ✡️appetizing store is known for their smoked #salmon and their vast #caviarselection. The business was founded by Joel Russ out of a pushcart before he opened this #storefront. There were more than four hundred appetizing stores in the city in 1936. This is the last one remaining on the Lower East Side. We really love their #vintage#neonsign flanked by the two #neonfish 🐟 which was lovingly restored by@lettherebeneon! Niki Russ Federman told us that while the #signage was being restored a number of years ago, many customers came by the shop worried that because the #neon was removed, that the business was closing, but she reassured them that was NOT the case and that their iconic neon sign would be brought back asap! We are so happy that they did!
Double #rainbow over the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan on June 5, 2016 after the torrential #rain ended. Definitely a site to see! This photo of ours was featured on Instagram's own page and now is hanging in its headquarters in California! 
VILLAGE CIGAR S located on Seventh Avenue South at Christopher Street has been in business since 1922. On the sidewalk outside the uniquely-shaped triangular cigar shop is a mosaic marker that reads, “Property of the Hess Estate which has never been dedicated for public purposes.” The Hess family was the owner of a five-story residential building on Christopher Street called the Voorhis, which was condemned in the 1910’s to make way for the IRT subway. Mr. David Hess refused to surrender his small plot of land to become part of Seventh Avenue South’s new sidewalk and created the mosaic to let everyone know of his small victory against the city. When Village Cigars opened in 1922, the owner bought the 500-square inch property from the Hess family for $1,000 and kept the mosaic in place.
Nathan's Famous in Coney Island at sunset. 🌅 Even though it is near the end of September and the first weekend of the fall season, it reached 91 degrees F today in New York City so a visit to Nathan's seemed appropriate. Nathan's @originalnathans was opened in 1916 by Nathan Handwerker, a Jewish immigrant from Poland. Nathan's became popular in #ConeyIsland due to its low prices (5 cents a hot dog) attention grabbing #signage and attractive location by the beach. We not only love its hot dogs 🌭 but also its array of #neon signage. The large vertical #neonsign was installed in the 1930s and the others along the #storefront were added in the 1960s. Photo from 2011 appears in our book "New York Nights". 
Subway Inn was founded in 1937 and was located near the Lexington Avenue subway 🚋 line entrance by the Bloomingdale's Department Store. After 77 years at its iconic location, it was forced to relocate to a new location when a new development was planned for its 1880s building. The Salinas family, who owns the #divebar took the original "Subway Inn" #neon sign and re-installed it in 2015 in its new @subwayinn location on Second Avenue by the Roosevelt Island tram. We are happy that they saved this gorgeous #neonsign! Photo above is from 2011 and interview with longtime bartender, Rodney Williams, appears in our book "New York Nights". 
Carnegie Delicatessen closed in late 2016. Carnegie was established in 1937 and has a #vintage #neonsign that we absolutely love and in fact chose this photo as the cover for our book "New York Nights". We interviewed Chuck Smith, the manager, for our book and he told us that "The neon sign outside is 65 years old. We are constantly fixing it because it’s very temperamental but we always want to keep it lit because it is iconic. We are best known for our #pastrami, corned beef and #brisket sandwiches, which are overstuffed with at least one pound of #meat. We pickle and smoke all of our own meat that we serve." Photo and full interview appear in "New York Nights".

Graffiti writer YNOT (R.I.P.). When we took this photo during our book release party for "Miami Graffiti" in 2009, YNOT was painting away despite the heat. Sadly, he was later killed in a fight outside a South Florida Strip Club, celebrating his 21st birthday.
"None Of This Matters" by the graffiti artist REVS, under Manhattan NYC. This was one of our first trips into the live subway tunnels. We loved seeing this art that few seldom do due to the danger of dodging trains and being mindful of the power of the active third rails.

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