In the 1990s, we could see the remains of a golden era, of a certain idea of New York. A mythical time, where one could stumble into Basquiat, Patti Smith or Debbie Harry at the deli on the corner. A period where everything seemed possible, cheap, simple, and wild. These are the words of Gregoire Alessandrini, a French film student, and writer that arrived in New York City in the early 1990s. He was supposed to spend one year in New York. However, he fell in love with the city. He would spend eight "amazing" years in New York, working as a correspondent for different French magazines. In this visual story, you can see some of his pictures, as well as other gems we have found digging an awesome material to put this great story together. 

Tour of New York Back in the 1990s

A Visual Storytelling by Lucas Compan

During those eight years, Gregoire Alessandrini was able to witness a unique atmosphere, which he share now with us: "The city had obviously tremendously changed since the 70’s and 80’s but you just had to walk around the corner, enter any downtown dive bar to find the signs and remains of this legendary NY. Just like if the city was waking up with a bad hangover from all the past parties and eccentricity. You could just point your camera and here you went… old Keith Haring murals, empty lots, graffiti and RIP murals, crazy people and wild parties, cinematic atmospheres in the desolate Meat Packing District, 42nd Street sleaze still alive, old signs and store fronts, ‘old’ New York atmosphere in general."

(Photo credit: Gregoire Alessandrini)

1 - Not-So-Distant Past 

This photo was actually taken in the not-so-distant past. It feels, however, like it is from a completely different New York.  In this photo: the Empire State Building seen from West End (Photo: Gregoire Alessandrini)

2 – WTC Bombing

The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, carried out on February 26, 1993, when a truck bomb was detonated below the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. This was the first attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor, said the FBI.

4 – Quality-of-Life Laws

Shortly after taking office, Mayor Rudy Giuliani names Bill Bratton NYPD police commissioner. Bratton applies the Broken Windows theory of policing, which stresses enforcing quality-of-life laws. (Photo: 1990 Chevrolet Capriche/Courtesy: NYPD)

5 – Safer and Safer

Photo: Gregoire Alessandrini

Upon taking office, Mayor David Dinkins begins a police hiring spree. Nearly 8,000 officers join the NYPD over the next two years

6 – Macarena-fever

Perhaps the most catchy pop song of all time, the Spanish one-hit wonder, and had New York City and the entire nation dancing. Even Al Gore showed off his Macarena moves at the 1996 Democratic National Convention.

7 – Concorde in Gotham

An Air France Concorde left New York's JFK International Airport for a world record circumnavigation flight, on August 15, 1995.

8 – Twin Towers' Last Decade



9 – The Nostalgia of Downtown

Steve Butcher took photographs of his neighborhood in the Lower East Side and East Village during the last years before it evolved from gritty to gentrified. On this photo Mr. Butcher captures the Auto Service Center on the corner of Lafayette and Prince Street (in Soho) as it was being used by French street artist WK to do a piece on model Alek Wek. Click here to see it today on Google Street View.

10 – Last Days of Old Times Square

 

Giuliani and his team of developers brought in upscale hotels, theme stores, and restaurants to create the neon Times Square we know today. 

11 – A Brand-New Times Square

Times Square in 1999.

12 – The Scent of Woman

Gabrielle Anwar and Al Pacino dance in the Waldorf Astoria in ‘Scent of a Woman’ (1992). Great movies were filmed in New York locations back in the 1990s.

New York's iconic Waldorf Astoria

13 – Next Stop is...

The 1990s and its improvements on New York's subway system.

14 – Jogger Lovers

Fashion – A style made famous by 1990s jogger lovers, Sport Luxe saw exercise garments leave the gym for life on the catwalk. Cleverly co-ordinating the stripe of the joggers with the thick white block of the jacket, this outfit and it’s soft touch of feminine glamour provides Sport-Luxe enthusiasts with a perfect example (Source: Nathalie Horsley)

15 – High Energy in the Lower East Side

Ash Thayer moved to Manhattan to become a photographer. Her community became her subject.

Ash Thayer moved from Memphis to Manhattan in the early 1990s with dreams of becoming a photographer. Living off part-time work and student loans while attending The School of Visual Arts, Thayer mostly squatted on the Lower East Side. Over time, she developed a deep connection with the community that took her in. That relationship comes through in "This Land," a photography project Thayer shot between 1992 and 1999.

16 – Iconic Music Venues


 The Limelight was a nightclub that was an epicenter for “club kid” culture in the ’90s, and a rock venue that hosted a lot of industrial and post-punk bands like Foetus, Gang of Four, Cop Shoot Cop, and New Model Army. The building, which was a converted church, looks more or less the same today, but it is now Limelight Shops, a mall for designer apparel.

The Palladium on 126 East 14th St. was both a cavernous dance club — early episodes of Club MTV were shot there — and a venue that hosted gigs by The Clash, The Rolling Stones, Devo, Public Image Ltd, 2 Live Crew, and Fugazi. The historic venue was eventually purchased by New York University, and is now an enormous dorm for NYU students. It’s still called The Palladium, though.

Coney Island High, located on 15 St. Mark’s Place in Manhattan, was the most popular punk venue in New York through much of the ’90s. The venue was demolished in the early ’00s and replaced with a condo building, and now there’s a sushi restaurant on the ground floor.

17 – 5 Pointz Queens

The Institute of Higher Burnin' or 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc., mainly referred to as simply 5 Pointz or 5Pointz, was an American mural space at 45–46 Davis Street in Long Island City, Queens, New York City, whose murals were exhibited mainly on the exterior walls of the building, drawn by artists from the world over.

The Institute of Higher Burnin' or 5Pointz Aerosol Art Center, Inc., mainly referred to as simply 5 Pointz or 5Pointz, was an American mural space at 45–46 Davis Street in Long Island CityQueensNew York City, whose murals were exhibited mainly on the exterior walls of the building, drawn by artists from the world over.

As of August 2014, 5 Pointz was in the process of being torn down and by November 2014 the building had been fully demolished, to be replaced by a condominium complex.


Best pop songs of the 1990s? Listen to this great compilation and have fun

18 – Y2K and The End of The World

Remember when everyone thought the world would end in the year 2000? Because computer programs abbreviated the year to two digits, the impending millennium had everyone warning of a digital meltdown when we exited the 20th century. Y2K survivalists started stocking up for the end-of-times and even a Presidential council was formed. In the end, companies worldwide upgraded their systems beforehand and nothing much happened.

Well, the end of the world was just the beginning of a new millennium. And that's what the visual storytelling "Tour of New York Back in the 2000s" will be about. Stay tuned.

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