Photographer Steve Butcher—who shared his 1980s photos with us last week—also documented the city in the '90s. Are you aware that 1990s-era things are "vintage" now? It's true, even if it feels like that decade just ended yesterday. But perhaps that passage of time is more apparent when we look back on the changed neighborhoods of Manhattan.
Butcher moved to NYC in 1981, first living "on the sofa in a basement apartment behind the boiler room on St. Marks," he tells us. In 1982 he moved to Ludlow Street off Houston, where he remains today—"Taxis didn’t know where Ludlow was and when they got here, they’d stop at Katz’s but would not drive down. Hard to believe now!"
On watching his neighborhood change rapidly through time, Butcher tells us, "Without sounding curmudgeonly, in the last 10 years all the historical character and what made the Lower East Side the Lower East Side has been gutted—it’s so sad. Handed over to developers and a transient population comprised of students and tourists. It feels more like a campus than anything else."
Back in the 1980s and '90s, Butcher says "the area was lived in; there was a diversity that is missing today. Every shop was its own shop—no chains. Well there was Woolworth’s up on Broadway, but we had King’s Drugs on Houston before Rite Aid knocked them out. There was Tunnel Stationers on Canal, knocked out by Staples. Orchard Street was a busy, thriving destination as was the whole area The art scene was amazing, involving so many talented people. I could go on and it’s not nostalgic, it just is what it was, for me. A thrilling and creative place to be."
Click through for a look at things were looking back in the '90s. Vintage!