Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Video Is TIme Travel
April 29, 2011 7:32 AM   Subscribe

A German tourist films a trip to New York City in 1983 and 86: Times Square, The Subway
posted by The Whelk (53 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
That first video is eye-opening: at what point after 1983 did New York get rid of the taxis with the lowrider hydraulics? And why the hell did they?
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:38 AM on April 29, 2011


I love that he seems really interested in documenting jaywalking. I'm sure that stood out for a German tourist at the time, and even looks a little funny now, since Giuliani broke a lot of people of this habit. Back then it was like an entitlement.

I must say I miss the non-hyper-cyber-Tokyo-ized Times Square. It is incredibly jittery now with all the video and animation.
posted by Miko at 7:47 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seeing "Porky's" on a theater marquee clinched it. Also, love that the TKTS signage has not changed a bit in 30 years.
posted by adamms222 at 7:50 AM on April 29, 2011


Man, I remember the city back then. The buses in the first video brought me back, and the old cabs and TDK sign. The Minskoff and Music Box theaters are still there and have not been renamed.

The footage starting at 11:50 of the lower Manhattan skyline and of the Statue of Liberty was awesome. Especially the section around 14:50. Of course, the city's skyline has changed since I grew up here.
posted by zarq at 7:55 AM on April 29, 2011


I'd love to see this for lots of cities. Thank you RIAA and music companies for going so overboard that he had to put it up with the original sound.
posted by cashman at 7:59 AM on April 29, 2011


I love that he seems really interested in documenting jaywalking. ... Back then it was like an entitlement.

A cop in Vegas was about to write me a jay-walking ticket. "But I'm from New York! We get tickets there for not jay-walking!", I protested. "Show me a New York drivers license." I did. "OK, be on your way now."
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:00 AM on April 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


Seeing "Porky's" on a theater marquee clinched it.

And, at 5:48, Evil Dead!
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:02 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Miko: " I must say I miss the non-hyper-cyber-Tokyo-ized Times Square. It is incredibly jittery now with all the video and animation."

Me too.

Found this footage of it from last year on Youtube.
posted by zarq at 8:05 AM on April 29, 2011


I love that he seems really interested in documenting jaywalking. I'm sure that stood out for a German tourist at the time...

when I was in a south German town, I was fascinated by the German attitudes towards jaywalking. There seemed to be two distinct populations (with no correlation to age or outward appearence):

1) would patiently wait at a no-walking signal day or night, no matter how deserted.

2) would cross without hesitation.

You could observe these two populations at a given intersection and they appeared not to interact at all.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:06 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very enjoyable! Thanks for this.
posted by Meatafoecure at 8:08 AM on April 29, 2011


I love the sound on these. The city still has much the same soundtrack, regardless of how much it's changed visibly.
posted by monospace at 8:26 AM on April 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Wow. 1986. The year I moved to New York.
posted by freakazoid at 8:29 AM on April 29, 2011


I love that he seems really interested in documenting jaywalking.

As far as I know only the US has a word for jaywalking. Everywhere else it's just crossing the road.
posted by rhymer at 8:33 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whenever I think that we're veering off into a dystopia, I think back and remember New York City in the early 1990s, and start to feel a lot better about our current state of affairs.
posted by schmod at 8:40 AM on April 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


The city of my childhood! Lovely to see.. I really miss this NYC.
posted by ReeMonster at 8:50 AM on April 29, 2011


I'm so happy that there is no music, just the sounds.
posted by Harry at 8:56 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Before Disney took over Times Square.....
posted by caddis at 8:58 AM on April 29, 2011


Amazing, have never seen any like it.
posted by clavdivs at 9:00 AM on April 29, 2011


This is how New York will always exist in my mind.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:06 AM on April 29, 2011


I love this. It makes me nostalgic for the filthier NYC, not the NYC theme park that is Manhattan today.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:06 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't think the cabs had hydraulics so much as the road was really bad (although if they did have hydraulics that would be kind of awesome). Loved the soundtrack as well, especially the guy with the boombox walking by with his lady. Of course, nowadays I get pissed at people playing music on their phones without headphones, but it really adds to the atmosphere of these videos.

It's amazing how much the Manhattan skyline has changed since then. Not only because of 9/11, but also lots of new development. Lower Manhattan looks totally different now.
posted by postel's law at 9:11 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I love this. It makes me nostalgic for the filthier NYC, not the NYC theme park that is Manhattan today.

A friendly 80's-style mugging would quickly cure that bout of nostalgia.
posted by adamms222 at 9:12 AM on April 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm so happy that there is no music, just the sounds.

I hope it's clear that this is what I was saying. I was genuinely thanking the circumstances that led him to post the original sound. It's great. Today's audiences get blasted with 5,000 bits of information every second and can't sit still long enough to

Oh shit, I just become old, didn't I?
posted by cashman at 9:14 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, that was the NYC of Mr. Bronson.
posted by caddis at 9:18 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friendly 80's-style mugging would quickly cure that bout of nostalgia.

That part where he just set the camera on the curb looking up at the cars going by? First thought: This tourist just got mugged.
posted by hal9k at 9:20 AM on April 29, 2011


Yes, that was the NYC of Mr. Bronson.

and of Mr. Goetz.
posted by adamms222 at 9:25 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The city still has much the same soundtrack, regardless of how much it's changed visibly.

it's true. That's a very interesting observation, in general - visual changes are faster than auditory changes in city life. It's interesting to think about what's absent - the el, street vendor hawking maybe - but that stuff wasn't around much in the 80s either.

Though, apropos the "crummy 80s" comments, the one thing I'm missing is the sotto voce boradcast offer "smoke - crack - smoke - crack" that was a regular refrain in some neighborhoods.

I didn't think the cabs had hydraulics so much as the road was really bad

Verifying this. The roads were really potholey. The other factor is that the cabs then all had the big mushy American-car land-yacht ride. Especially the Checkers. It was kind of weird how few Checkers I saw in this video, because I remember a lot of them. We used to try to get them because it was so fun to sit, like 5 across in that huge mushy seat.
posted by Miko at 9:51 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


The only possible better soundtrack would be adding Werner Herzog talking about what we were looking at.
posted by maxwelton at 9:53 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


It was the fading in of the Kiss FM news patter that cemented the "OH SHIT TIME TRAVEL" feeling for me. At once instantly recognizable and totally different. Very jamais vu
posted by The Whelk at 9:54 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


You could lose your purse – or you might lose something worse – on the subway!
posted by bicyclefish at 9:56 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, KISS-FM got me too! In many ways, because it was a station I tried to never listen to, so it was only part of the ambient background of life. Had it been one of the classic rock stations I think it would have had less punch, because I've spent time already waxing nostalgic about those. There's something about hearing something you had totally forgotten about, but was part of the fabric of life, that's got a more powerful punch than hearing something you've kind of recollected in your mind already.
posted by Miko at 9:59 AM on April 29, 2011


w/r/t subway safety - I can't find an example on YouTube, but remember the PSA commercial "If You Want It...Don't Flaunt It!" It was meant to show you how you shouldn't wear expensive dangly necklaces outside your coat because thieves would just grab them until the chain broke and run.
posted by Miko at 10:01 AM on April 29, 2011


People are doing that with iPhones and the like now. I know more then a few people who've had things snatched recently.
posted by The Whelk at 10:03 AM on April 29, 2011


Hey, now we can just use that free app and track their ass.
posted by Miko at 10:07 AM on April 29, 2011


Looks pretty much how I remember it...
posted by blaneyphoto at 10:16 AM on April 29, 2011


So is NYC different now?
posted by Faze at 10:25 AM on April 29, 2011


subways are a helluva lot cleaner.
posted by The Whelk at 10:28 AM on April 29, 2011


I don't remember the K train, but I do remember the C,R and G were CC,RR and GG but they lost the second letter somwhere along the way. This is back when some stations still had Nedick's in them where you could get that crazy orange drink.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:36 AM on April 29, 2011


Brooklyn July 4th 1989

Now that is the New York of my childhood.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:53 AM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as I know only the US has a word for jaywalking. Everywhere else it's just crossing the road.

No, here in Canada Elmer the Safety Elephant taught me about it in primary school and how it was a Bad Thing. Confusingly, though, the illustration we were given showed a young scofflaw crossing diagonally across an intersection. From age six to about age thirty, I honestly thought this was what constituted jaywalking.

To this day, I feel no compunction about crossing in mid-block but have some nagging unease about using the pedestrian scrambles in Toronto. I fear the disapproval of an elephant.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:06 AM on April 29, 2011


I love this. It makes me nostalgic for the filthier NYC, not the NYC theme park that is Manhattan today.

Yeah. The NYC where 3,000 people (ie. 9/11) died every 2.5 months from HIV/AIDS. You know...the good old days.


On the subject of KISS-FM, in a few years time, I'd love to watch a video of NYC from the 2000s, hear "WLTW, 106.7 Lite-FM" and think "Gosh. It's been ages since that angry mob raided their offices and destroyed their music library transmission equipment."
posted by schmod at 11:08 AM on April 29, 2011


what a beautiful city. even though some of the very same city busses are in use even today.
posted by krautland at 11:28 AM on April 29, 2011


I think I've mentioned this before, but at one time Universal HD was showing HD transfers of The Equalizer. Mid-80s NYC makes an amazing backdrop on film.
posted by wierdo at 12:00 PM on April 29, 2011


Brooklyn July 4th 1989 yt

Now that is the New York of my childhood.


Awesome. Also, I have every confidence they carefully swept up all that gunpowder, burnt paper, and melted plastic up from the street afterward!
posted by Miko at 12:16 PM on April 29, 2011


I think I've mentioned this before, but at one time Universal HD was showing HD transfers of The Equalizer. Mid-80s NYC makes an amazing backdrop on film.
posted by wierdo at 12:00 PM on April 29 [+] [!]


I recently rewatched a the first season of The Equalizer and I completely agree: it's just gorgeous. Just the scenery would make it worth watching for anyone interested in the NYC of that era.
posted by Violet Hour at 3:39 PM on April 29, 2011


I never noticed German attitudes about jaywalkers until I was openly berated on the street by an ancient woman as I jaywalked in a mid-sized, central German town. "Have you no shame?" After that I always noticed when people jaywalked and also noticed the chagrined reactions of older, more law-abiding types.
posted by mynameisluka at 4:31 PM on April 29, 2011


Nice post. Thanks.

You gotta have a taste for complex skankiness -among other things- to really enjoy living in NYC. Those vids depicted that nicely.

Actually I'm really grateful the city's not as nasty as it used to be, less litter on the pavements, less dog poop (hallelujah people picking up their dog's poop), less cigarette smoke and butts (ugh), definitely less mugging, less "smoke, smoke, smoke" drug dealers, less rape, less junkies, less crack, less fear, less street crime, less being molested on the street and less verbal harassment that was routine when I was a kid here in the 60's and '70's.

I loathed all the graffiti in the 70's really but surrendered to the creative chaos of it in the end and almost enjoyed it by the 80's after returning from India but was relieved the scratching and spray painting subsided in the 90's.

Still, the subway is an acquired taste, the squealing of the subway brakes, the rawness of the subway stations, which stink of an indescribably disturbing combination of smells, top note rank mold, perfumes and colognes, rat feces, drunken vomit, damp cement, Juicy Fruit, railway metal, sweat, decaying rats, stagnant water, a century of old urine, fresh newspaper, Lysol.

And those arduous, filthily grimy stairs with rails that one hardly dares touch!

I remember subway tokens, wooden turnstiles, subway stations in NYC with vending machines that sold Vitamin E capsules for a nickel, beautifully golden and translucent in that subterranean squalor, Dentyne and Juicy Fruit. And Hershey's bars, the greasy rubber of the chocolate world and Nestle's Crunch bars. Also a nickel apiece.

New York Crime Rates 1960 - 2009

Index of Crime in New York in the State of New York enforced by New York Cit from 1985 to 2005 Man, that's a dramatic improvement since 1980! wow.

Crime in NYC
posted by nickyskye at 6:31 PM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remember a friend's mom, lifelong New Yorker saying:

"The subways have never been better. I'm not talking about the graffiti or crime. I'm talking about the seats. They used to have these awful wicker seats that were ALWAYS broken and they'd shred your hose to pieces every. day. and you couldn't go to work without them. Things are so much better now."
posted by The Whelk at 6:35 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is excellent, thank you for posting. I've been enjoying playing both at once; layering the sounds and flipping between the vid streams makes a great montage.
posted by atlatl at 8:13 PM on April 29, 2011


I love this. It makes me nostalgic for the filthier NYC, not the NYC theme park that is Manhattan today.

Yeah. The NYC where 3,000 people (ie. 9/11) died every 2.5 months from HIV/AIDS. You know...the good old days.


I don't think they died from lack of access to overpriced chain stores and restaurants, blindingly bright billboards, or boring corporate-produced Broadway shows with nearly nonexistent book.

Thinking about the 80s reminds me of so many ghosts, too, but at the time of this video, HIV had just been discovered. The death rate was highest in the early 90s, when Giuliani was clearing Times Square of the nightclubs and sex shows and discouraging street trade.
posted by desuetude at 12:00 AM on April 30, 2011


Yeah. The NYC where 3,000 people (ie. 9/11) died every 2.5 months from HIV/AIDS. You know...the good old days.

I watched two documentaries recently: Paris is Burning and The Lady in Question is Charles Busch. Both deal with NYC in the 80's, Manhattan particularly. AIDS looms large in both. But there is this incredible feeling that NYC was a place where ordinary people could do incredible things: drag balls in the first case, and very subversive theater in the second. You just can't have either in the same way now because Manhattan is a rich man's island. This piece of film just made me nostalgic for that different Manhattan where people of all economic backgrounds could carve out their own little piece of the island.

So, pardon me if you somehow thought I was getting sentimental for AIDS...
posted by munchingzombie at 12:41 PM on April 30, 2011


I'm just thinking about the amount of venues I used to perform in that have just vanished in the last decade and nothing else has taken their place.
posted by The Whelk at 12:48 PM on April 30, 2011


That's the New York of my childhood. It takes a lot of patience to just film a city like that and not want to make a narration or step in front of the camera to wave and act goofy. Especially in 1983.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 8:57 PM on April 30, 2011


« Older The Monkees' Head: 'Our fans couldn't even see it'...  |  There's a world of music offer... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments