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Sleazy City: Amazing pics of Times Square, back before they took all the porn away
09.21.2015
12:03 pm
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Sleazy City: Amazing pics of Times Square, back before they took all the porn away


 
It’s well known that Times Square in Manhattan endured a massive facelift during the mayoral tenure of Rudy Giuliani in the 1990s. Disney became an investor in the area, which soon became a touristic haven for Madame Tussaud’s and stores selling overpriced fare from Godiva’s, M&M’s, Quiksilver, and Lids. The main casualty of this process of turbo-gentrification were the charming porno houses that dotted the area in the 1970s and 1980s.

Maggie Hopp worked in the administration of Mayor John Lindsday in the late 1960s, but left to travel extensively (Colombia, Scotland, and India, among others) before returning to NYC to settle down and focus on getting work as a professional photographer. According to an interesting interview Hopp granted to Ragazine, she was fortunate, upon her return, to befriend a “deep-pocketed” mentor with some clout in the world of real estate who also had some instincts as a preservationist, and he encouraged her to get her realtor’s license. Together they isolated neighborhoods that were likely to undergo rapid change in the decades to come, and she went out and photographed every block of those areas in such a way that his interest in them as real estate properties wouldn’t become widely known.
 

He was, of course, more interested in determining which properties to buy, assemble and hold for long-term development, but I treated this pursuit as an opportunity to make a ‘photographic documentary art project’ and made a concentrated effort to find the best light, to be thorough, and to photograph every block and therefore to show which were the sites ripe for change and development ( e.g. parking lots, taxpayers, one story warehouses, etc.),  recognizing the inevitability of change and that my images were a way of preserving the city at least visually!

 
One of the more interesting pictures in this set is of the Terminal Bar, which was one of the city’s most notorious dive bars in the city for decades, located right across the street from the Port Authority. As Gothamist once wrote about the place, the neon signs of the bar represented “a false beacon of hope in a darker part of town.” It was featured in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. The Terminal Bar was originally an Irish bar but later became a predominantly African American and gay bar. It closed in 1982, just a couple years after these pictures were taken.

There isn’t a book dedicated to Hopp’s photographs of Times Square—at least not yet. However, her pictures are featured in Benjamin Chesluk’s 2007 book Money Jungle: Imagining the New Times Square.

Click on the pictures for a larger view:
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
via Shooting Film
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Forty glorious minutes of seedy footage from Times Square in the early 1980s

Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.21.2015
12:03 pm
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