Glimpses of the long-gone, cool, decaying seediness of 42nd Street

Before it was swept clean and purified with Disney goodness, you could enjoy New York’s 42nd street in all its noisy, colorful, rude, and vivid glory. Mitch O’Connell shares his treasure trove of late 20th century photos.

By Mitch O'Connell

As an aspiring teenaged artist I would travel to NY every once in a while to show my illustrations. This was before websites, emails and electricity, so you had to get your work seen the old fashioned way, by pestering. I'd crash at friends’/relatives’ apartments and spend the day cold-calling and pleading. If I was lucky I'd get an actual face-to-face with an art director at a magazine or comic publisher, but more often than not I’d be asked to drop off my portfolio at 10am and pick it up after lunch. I had only one portfolio (didn't think to have multiples), which left me with plenty of free time to stroll the city, and what was more eye catching than 42nd Street? I wish I’d taken 1000 more photos (and gone back at night) of the amazing buildings and people that could be found only there, but at least I got a handful of snapshots of the long-gone cool decaying seediness of that bustling stretch of real estate!

42 street 5 42 street 6 42 street 7 42 street 8 42 street 9 42 street 10 42 street 11 42 street 12 42 street 14 42 street 15 42 street 16 42 street 17 42 street 18 42 street 19 42 street 20 42 street 22 42 street 23 42 street 25 42 street 26 42 street 27 42 street 28 42 street 30 42 street 32 42 street jesus 42 street21 42 street24 42 42a 42aaa 42aaaaaaaa 42b 42c 42e 42nd streetg 421-1 421 422-1 422-2 422 423-1 423 424 425 426 427 428 429 4210 4211 4212 4213 4215 4222 422222 ny4 ny5 ny6 ny7 ny8

(via Mitch O'Connell's excellent blog)

Published 6:02 am Mon, Jul 14, 2014

About the Author

Mitch O'Connell has somehow has been able to make a living as a freelance artist. Big shot editorial clients include, Rolling Stone, Newsweek, GQ, The New York Times, Time, Playboy, Entertainment Weekly, The New Yorker and Juggs! Advertising campaign art for Coke, McDonalds, KFC, Kellogs plus many more. In-between paying jobs he creates fine art masterpieces that adorn gallery walls (the trick he's working on now is to get folks to buy 'em and hang 'em on their own walls). He's exhibited from New York to Chicago, to Germany to Miami to Tokyo to Hollywood to Mexico. His latest book is Mitch O'Connell the World's Best Artist by Mitch O'Connell