East Village, 1990s. Photo by Gregoire Alessandrini.
In 1990s New York City, photographer Gregoire Alessandrini documented the streets of the city through his eyes as a young film student and writer. His photos of the Meatpacking District, Times Square, Celebrities, Coney Island and iconic diners of the 1990s have previously been featured in our Vintage Photo column. In his newest post, he presents photos of murals and graffiti in different neighborhoods of the city, giving us a glimpse into the street art of the time. An interesting pattern is how prominently some of the large brands like Coca Cola, Quick, Newport Cigarettes figured in street art, whether commissioned or spontaneous.
The large walls on Houston have long been a popular advertising site for fashion brands like DKNY, Calvin Klein, and now Hollister. A fun fact: The bare walls exist because Houston Street used to be a narrow road like those in Soho, and was widened.
While the East Village and Alphabet City has certainly changed substantially over the past few decades, it still retains some culture of its past. These days, it’s still possible to have a secret street art show in an abandoned building or visit the longest continually running tattoo shop in Manhattan. Street art is also officially commissioned in some places, like the rotating street art hotspot at Bowery and Houston.
Slower to gentrify than the East Village, Alphabet City is surrounded with gems like the 2Bn2C sculpture garden and a pop up gallery like this one in a Bodega’s beer storage. But what did it look like in the 90s? Here’s a glimpse:
For more photos of murals and graffiti and the rest of New York City in the 1990s, visit Gregoire Alessandrini’s blog.
See even more vintage photos of New York City in our Vintage Photo column.