street view of nyc in the 80s

Someone uploaded a complete Google streetview of NYC in the 80s

browse it for a fair dose of vintage smoky NYC stories and views

Good thing I’m using Refind – as the other day it floated a link to a neat interactive flashback project, – essentially a complete street view map of new york in the 1980. Scrolling over it is the closest you can ever get to walking into the gritty dangerous days of Gotham. This is such a retro gem, and I found myself spending a few hours just checking streets and familiar corners in the city.

Here’s the 7th avenue between 48th and 49th, then and today:

street view of new york in the 80s - 7th ave and 48th west
street view of new york in the 80s - 7th avenue 48th today2
Source: Google maps
street view of new york in the 80s - 7th avenue 48th today
Source: Google maps

Quite a difference, wouldn’t you say. Especially to see how much more open the streets were then.

The map was programmed by Jeremy Lechtzin and Brandon Liu who wanted to find a way to organize the huge database of over 800,000 images collected by the NY municipal archive and layer it for seamless browsing just like Google Street View is doing.

They’ve mentioned on an interview to DNAinfo:

“We’re trying to give people a sense of what the city looked like in the 1980s — what entire blocks looked like, what an entire neighborhood would have looked like”

Though the photos can’t be awarded for being the best documentation work – hey are grainy, washed out and sometime completely miss the focal point – they do deliver that raw, unglamorous, falling apart vibe of NYC during the 80s.

A city growing cancer, vying for change and redemption – while still never stops moving. Take for example Williamsburg before gentrification and hip era:

street view of new york in the 80s - williamsburg prior to gentrification
Source: 80s/nyc

In a similar way to Google maps, the maps features “stories” pinpoints, where clicking on thumbnails opens a story section with a series of photos, discussing areas of interest about the street, people, shops and events. This is by far the best part I find in this project.

Here’s the famous Katz Delicatessen tidbit:

street view of new york in the 80s - Kats Delicatessen

And another one about V.I.M Jeans and Sneakers back in the days. You can almost feel the breakdance block party happening on the next street.

street view of new york in the 80s - VIM sneakers at west 14th street

I just can’t wait to see how it will look in VR!

Finally here’s a relevant virtual reality project to do. Let people time travel to 80’s nyc. I’ll pay.