Last month, Ephemeral New York ran a post featuring some never-before-seen downtown street photos taken in the summer of 1979.
They were taken by a Dutch sailor whose ship was docked in New York Bay.
Whenever he could take a day off and visit Manhattan, he brought along his camera, capturing the energy and excitement of a city he had no idea was at its supposed nadir, facing bankruptcy and with residents fleeing fast.
These photos are from the same collection. Rather than random street shots revealing glimpses of the magic and beauty of day-to-day life downtown, they focus on stores—the kind of small, local businesses that are becoming an endangered species in today’s Manhattan.
Some of these businesses still exist, like Rocco’s, still the best pastry shop on Bleecker Street.
Ottomanelli’s meat market also remains on Bleecker; you can see part of the old-school sign in the photo below (though unfortunately the antique store and children’s store next door are both kaput).
The other shops have vanished. Something Special Cakes and Pies? What looks like a charming bakery seems to have disappeared without a trace. Can anyone identify the block the little shop is on?
Joe’s Dairy, the wonderful Italian cheese store on Houston and Sullivan Streets, hung on until 2013. The workers behind this tiny store made the most heavenly balls of mozzarella, which you can see hanging in the windows.
Greenwich Village still has plenty of antique stores, but not quite as homey as the Village Oaksmith.
Where was this antiques store? And for that matter, does anyone recognize this colorfully painted tenement with the former Bazaar shop on the ground floor?
According to the sign in the window, it had already gone out of business. I wish I knew what the landlord was asking in rent.
[All photos: copyright Peter van Wijk]