The intersection of 41st Street and 8th Avenue is possibly one of the most dismal in New York City's history. Port Authority Bus Terminal has been looming over it since the 1950s, and around that same time what would become one of the city's most notorious dive bars opened its door across the street. The Terminal Bar's neon signs flickered at the southeast corner for decades, a false beacon of hope in a darker part of town. Even if you were never one of the down-and-outs on the inside, you probably know it from Taxi Driver, or this doc:
The place—which transformed from an Irish to a gay bar over time—survived through 1982 (the New York Times Building is there now), and a photo book was just published documenting its final decade. The Terminal Bar was put together by Stefan Nadelman, who writes in the introduction:
"In 1956 my grandfather Murray Goldman acquired the lease... At the time, his brother-in-law Bernie and cousin Arnie ran a Manhattan bar called the Peppermint Lounge, and they encouraged him to get in the business, too. Over the years he became an important figure in the Times Square scene. People called him 'The Godfather.' The atmosphere, demographic, and name of The Terminal Bar were dictated by its location: directly across from Port Authority. This intersection was, and still is, a thriving hub where all strata of society converge. It provided an endless stream of one-off customers wandering in for a drink. During the day, folks who worked in the area... at night, regulars who lived in the area."
He goes on to explain that his father, Shelly—who bartended at Terminal—got into photography, and took portraits of his customers... thousands of them, from winos to junkies to drag queens. In 2000, Nadelman digitized them, and eventually combined them with anecdotes from his father to form this book, which even includes drink favorites of the regulars (Screwdrivers were popular). It's a great glimpse inside the famous dive, and a look at the people who kept the bar stools warm. Click through for a look.