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Changing Fashion of New York

Artists and photographer Carole Teller donated hundreds of photographs to Village Preservation that she took from the 1960s through the 1990s. An East Village resident for over fifty years, Carole so beautifully and thoroughly documented her neighborhood’s architecture, daily life, and many quirks, we have had to dole it out in multiple parts in our Historic Image Archive (see Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV, Part 5, & The Godfather Part II).

Delancey Street looking north on Orchard Street, with Cohen Fashion Opticals in the 1960s.

Carole not only captured the everchanging landscape of New York through the decades, but also captured the changes in fashion trends. Here are a few of the many photos that she took that showcase the changing fashion of New York.

This photo was taken on East 6th Street in 1971. It may appear much older than that, but in reality it’s a 1970s photo of East 6th Street all dolled up to look much older – for the filming of the Godfather II.  The Oscar-winning sequel used East 6th Street to depict Vito Corleone’s Lower East Side neighborhood of 1917, where he first started his family and his life of crime. Carole Teller’s collection of images of the filming of the Godfather Part II showcases what fashion was like for Italian immigrants in New York during the early 20th century (or at least how they were portrayed in one classic early 1970s movie about them).


Captured above is the Alamo sculpture, surrounded by murals, vendors, and musicians on Astor Place, looking south from 8th Street, between Lafayette Street and Cooper Square.  The picture dates to the early 1980s. The fashion is typical of the era with short shorts, long white tube socks, and multi-patterned shirts. Tony Rosenthal’s Alamo sculpture at the intersection of the East VillageGreenwich Village, and NoHo, has held out on its little urban island for decades to become one of the most recognizable and beloved public sculptures in the city. Named by Rosenthal’s wife, it was originally installed by the city as part of a temporary public art exhibition called Sculpture in Environment along with 31 other artworks around the city. Almost instantly, the 15 foot tall cube of painted CorTen steel, which could be turned on its axis, clicked with the public. In September 1967, the New York Times noted that the recently installed “Alamo has already become a favorite huddling place for hippies and students of nearby Cooper Union.”

Shown above is an accordion player & crowd in Washington Square Park in the 1970s. The fashion stands out in the double braided hair, the 70s stache, stripped turtle necks, and the many fedoras. It is no surprise that this crowd is gathered in Washington Square Park, home of the arch, the fountain, the folk music riots, and a long history of performance and art. Located in the heart of the Village, it has long been a hub for culture and politics in New York City. The park has even drawn in major celebrities for performances including Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, and Lady Gaga.

This photo depicts the Hare Krishnas dancing on 2nd Avenue, west side between 2nd & 3rd Streets, looking south in 1969. In the late 1960s, spiritual leader Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada arrived in New York to spread his conception of Krishna consciousness. In 1966, he founded the International Society of Krishna Consciousness at 26 Second Avenue, near 2nd Street. On October 9, 1966, Swami Prabhupada led a group of followers to the nearby Tompkins Square Park.  Under the leafy canopy of an American elm tree, now known as the Hare Krishna Tree, they began to chant a distinctive 16-word mantra: ”Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.”  It was Prabhupada’s first outdoor chanting ceremony outside of India and it gave birth to the Hare Krishna religion.

Old photos are addictive, I think, and comparing them to the present day, illuminating. It can also make you thankful for our neighborhood protections. To see more historic photos from our neighborhood, go to Village Preservation’s Historic Image Archive.   And if you want to see more historic photos of just certain areas or locations, search using our historic image archive map here.

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