Knowing where the party was required keeping an eye out for new posters decorating city streets and subway walls before Facebook invites and online check-ins. In order to highlight the cultural and historical relevance of posters through changing exhibitions and educational programs, a new museum in New York City named Poster House is scheduled to open in 2018.
In honor of the Poster House’s impending opening, lead curator Angelina Lippert gave BuzzFeed News access to a collection of posters that depicted New York City’s nightlife in the 20th century. In this passage, Lippert transports us to a time when social gatherings had no boundaries and political correctness was an afterthought.
1. The Palladium (1985)
The owners of Studio 54 transformed The Palladium, which had been built as a music venue, into a nightclub in 1985. It served as the setting for the first Club MTV episodes, and it served as the location for The Clash’s album cover photo for London Calling. The location and its opulent facade were destroyed in 1997 to make room for more NYU dorms.
2. Madison Square Garden, 1909
The second of Madison Square Garden’s four incarnations were in place in 1909. The initial event took place outside at Madison Square Park. The second, depicted in this poster, was constructed close to a park corner and brought the arena inside.
It was created by the well-known Stanford White, who would later be assassinated there in 1906. It served as a venue for a number of events, including the Barnum and Ringling circuses, the annual French Ball, the Democratic National Convention, and sporting occasions like the one depicted in this poster. The location was demolished in 1926, and the New York Life Insurance Company’s corporate offices were soon built in its stead. The building is now a Mikasa showroom.
3. The Electric Circus from 1968
The Electric Circus, a surreal nightclub with circus acts, light shows, and theatrics that was open from 1967 to 1971, was created by Chermayeff & Geismar. The Grateful Dead and the Velvet Underground were notable performers. After a bomb went off on the dance floor in 1970, the club lost its appeal and closed roughly a year later. The area has been divided into opulent flats today, complete with a Chipotle on the ground floor.
4. World Expo Pennsylvania Railroad, New York, 1939
The Beaux-Arts masterpiece Old Penn Station was constructed in 1910 by McKim, Mead, and White. Numerous protests were held after its demolition was announced in 1962, but to no avail—it was demolished the next year. The only benefit of its destruction was the widespread outcry it caused, which sparked a rise in interest in historic preservation.
Since then, several structures that otherwise would have perished in a similar way have been granted landmark status, ensuring their survival for upcoming generations. Present-day Madison Square Garden and the less appealing Pennsylvania Plaza are located on the two blocks that previously housed the old Penn Station.
5. 1970 Chelsea Hotel
Over the years, hundreds of famous artists have resided at the Hotel Chelsea, including Allen Ginsberg, Dylan Thomas, Sid Vicious, Arthur Miller, Madonna, Mark Twain, Tennessee Williams, Jack Kerouac, Stanley Kubrick, and Edie Sedgwick. The Hotel Chelsea has also been featured in countless books, songs, and films.
The 16-year-old artist Clare Shenstone is depicted in this poster for the 1966 Warhol movie, which was set in the hotel and was released in Britain. Currently, the area is undergoing a complete renovation to make way for a mix of opulent condos and a smaller boutique hotel.
6. Madison Square Garden’s Felt Forum, 1979
The little theatre inside Madison Square Garden, which went by the name of Felt Forum from 1968 to 1989, served as the venue for small-scale performances, graduations, and boxing contests during that time. Since then, it has undergone numerous renovations and brand changes. It will presently be demolished as part of the future rebuilding of Penn Station to make room for additional shop space.
7. 1977 New York Subway System
With its beige canals, square Central Park, and trains that could turn at a 90-degree angle, this classic but ultimately perplexing map of the New York subway system preferred simplicity above geographic accuracy. However, Vignelli had three more things in mind for it to go with.
A spoken description of how to go to and from the main areas of interest, a map of the neighborhood where you are, and another map of the complete subway system. None of the others were ever put into practice, leading to a subway map that was eventually taken out of circulation in 1979 as a consequence of public pressure. It is now regarded as a masterpiece of contemporary graphic design.
8. You Need Not Be Jewish to Love Levy’s,” 1967
Henry S. Levy & Sons, which was in business in Brooklyn until 1979, decided not to downplay its Jewish heritage when marketing its goods to New Yorkers. The advertisement, which aired for many years, shows a varied group of people enjoying Levy’s bread, including a young black youngster, an Irish police officer, an Italian choirboy, a Native American, and a Chinese man. The site where the bakery once stood is now a waste management facility.
9. The Mercer Arts Center (1973).
In 1971, the Mercer Arts Center debuted in a dilapidated hotel-turned-flophouse, establishing the city’s first multi-venue performance place accessible to all kinds of performers. The structure collapsed on August 3, 1973, just seven months after the event advertised in this poster, killing four people. The area has been reconstructed as a part of the NYU School of Law today.
10. Studio 54, 1980
When Studio 54 moved into the former CBS television building in 1977, it made use of the sophisticated lighting setup and theatrical prowess of its previous occupant. As a result of hosting stars like Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry, Tina Turner, Al Pacino, David Bowie, and countless more, it became the most recognizable venue of the disco era. It abruptly closed in 1980 when its owners admitted to tax fraud. The Roundabout Theatre Company is the property’s current owner.
11. 1968’s The Different Drummer
The Different Drummer was a well-known vintage apparel store in Midtown East that was open from 1967 until 1971. According to legend, two future New York Dolls members were employed as shopboys and came up with their now-famous band name while thinking about the nearby New York Doll Hospital. Paul Sigenlaub, the owner who sold the company in 1971, is seen in the poster. Today, a sushi restaurant occupies the space.
12. The Bottom Line, 1977
During its lengthy run at 15 West 4th Street, The Bottom Line, one of New York City’s most unusual little musical venues, showcased the talents of Bruce Springsteen, The Police, Neil Young, Barry Manilow, and Miles Davis, The Ramones, Lou Reed, and Prince. Rent increases forced its closure in 2004, and it has since been transformed into NYU classrooms.
13. Casino Bond International, 1981
Bonds International Casino, a very unimportant New York music venue before a run of 17 consecutive concerts, rose to fame. In 1981, The Clash performed there. The initially planned concerts were severely oversold and were unable to accommodate all of the spectators, which led to the now-famous Times Square melee. In order to accommodate all of their fans, the band replied by extending the dates of their shows. A year later, the building would close after the owners were accused of tax fraud. Currently unoccupied, the Times Square location was most recently held by a Toys “R” Us.
14. Coney Island High School, 1998
Mid-to-late 1990s punk rock was popular at Coney Island High, which finally closed as a result of “quality of life” complaints from the locals. Later, the structure was destroyed to make way for opulent condos.
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