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Historic Photo Mystery Solved!

As we add images to our Historic Image Archive, we try to provide as much identifying information as possible on each one.  Sometimes the images come to us with the exact location of the image, date, etc.  Sometimes they come with no information whatsoever, and we have to comb our files, mental and otherwise, to try to locate and date them. Sometimes we figure it out all on our own; sometimes we do it with a little help from our friends.

But the image below, despite having some recognizable signage, has gone unidentified and plagued us for some time.  Until now.

Do you know who these men are? We assume they are debating whether denim or corduroy is the superior fabric.

Based on the group of Carole Teller photos that this was donated with, I always thought this was likely taken at a Lower East Side location, probably on Delancey, Orchard, or Ludlow Streets like the others in the batch. But I was recently looking at some images that were presented at a public program we did in January 2016 with author Ada Calhoun on her newly released book St. Marks is Dead. Watch her full, very entertaining presentation here. Calhoun, a St. Marks native, has been a crime reporter for the New York Post, a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review, a theater critic for New York magazine, and a ghostwriter or co-author of seven books for major publishers, including four bestsellers.

St. Marks is Dead is an idiosyncratic work of narrative history, enriched by more than two hundred interviews and dozens of rare images. Calhoun traces the 400-year history of the area—organized around pivotal moments when yet another group of denizens declared, “St. Marks is Dead.” And yet, Calhoun shows how the street continues to provide each new generation of rebels with a place to call home.

One of the photos used in her presentation is an image shot looking north up 2nd Avenue towards St. Marks. If you look at the northwest corner, you can clearly see our mystery Majestic* store.

Joey Skaggs on 2nd Avenue and St. Marks Place. Photo by Fred W. McDarrah.

Another photo, presumably from the same roll as noted in her presentation, shows Jerry Rubin posing with his plastic gun. You can only see the corner vent of our mystery Majestic store.

American social and political activist Jerry Rubin stands shirtless as he holds a plastic M16 above his head at the intersection of St Marks Place and 2nd Avenue, September 28, 1968. Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images

If you would like to explore some of our other unidentified photos and see if you can offer any insights regarding the location, check out our historic image archive map and look for the black boxes on the right and left sides of the map, or check out some others here.

Click here to read some of the stories told by our readers about images from the archive. Click here to watch Ada Calhoun’s presentation.

*When this post was published, one of our readers wrote in:

Majestic was owned by a guy named Danny (we used to call him Danny Majestic for obvious reasons, just not to his face). A short chubby guy. Nice guy. For many years he had a small storefront on the west side of 2nd Ave. between 7th and 8th Sts. Majestic for years was a strictly conservative clothing store – sharkskin suits, that sort of thing – and so was Danny.

When the Summer of Love hit, Majestic dove right in with flowered and paisley shirts, bell bottoms, striped t-shirts and pea coats. He had a great selection. And Danny changed too. All of a sudden his hair got long and he was wearing white turtlenecks and colorful scarves. Anyway, the place got so popular that Danny got ambitious and moved to that corner location in the photo, but he didn’t last long. The Gap would soon take that spot over from him and was there for many years. 

2 responses to “Historic Photo Mystery Solved!

  1. To the amazing Sam the Sleuth—-what investigative skills you have. Absolutely brilliant to connect different historic images to find the location of the photo.
    I thank you and admire your ability.
    You should feel very satisfied from having solved the mystery

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