Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Then and Now: Houston Street at Second Avenue, NYC

Second Avenue and Houston Street, Manhattan

Second Avenue at Houston Street, NYC, randommusings.filminspector.com
Second Avenue at Houston Street, NYC, in 1980.
Houston Street (pronounced "HOW-stun") in Manhattan is a major cross-town thoroughfare which never seems to get a lot of respect. It is the dividing line between Greenwich Village and Soho (and Second Avenue technically is the dividing line between Greenwich Village and the East Village, so this is a true crossroads). In some ways, the area resembles a touching of tectonic plates that keep rubbing against each other to produce creative discord. When I saw the above picture from 1980, it seemed so typical of the street and also anachronistic for the year due to its rainbow flag and other elements that it piqued my interest. I decided to do this comparison of Houston Street at Second Avenue from 1980 to 2018.

Second Avenue at Houston Street, NYC, randommusings.filminspector.com
Houston Street at Second Avenue, NYC, in August 2018 (Google Street View).
Taking a look at the Google Street View photos, it's apparent that the mural is long gone. However, considering the passage of almost four decades, the rest of the scene is surprisingly unchanged. The corner of Houston and Second Avenue is unchanged, and it looks like the same "Do Not Enter" sign is still hanging on the same light pole (the light itself looks slightly different). Beyond, the vacant lot has been turned into a park, with the addition of some trees to those that were there already. In the background, the garage on which the artist painted the mural is gone, but the other buildings appear to be the same (with some modifications). Overall, if you were standing at the corner in 1980 and were suddenly transported to 2018, you'd barely notice a change at all.

Second Avenue at Houston Street, NYC, randommusings.filminspector.com
Houston Street at Second Avenue, NYC, in August 2018 (Google Street View).
Taking a slightly different angle on the scene, we see there are even more similarities between 1980 and 2018. While the garage is gone, the artistic impulses of the inhabitants are not. Another artful street artist has found a wall to work on where the garage used to be.

Second Avenue at Houston Street, NYC, randommusings.filminspector.com
Houston Street at Second Avenue, NYC, in August 2018 (Google Street View).
The entrance to the garage that appears in the 1980 shot appears to be there. It, too, is covered with colorful art. You may or may not appreciate street art, but perhaps you will admit that it seems to fill some kind of need in parts of society. Overall, the changes in the forty years since 1980 seem cosmetic, but the basic structure and spirit of Second Avenue and Houston Street appears completely intact.

I hope you enjoyed this entry in my "the more things change, the more they stay the same" series. Please visit some of my other pages to see how locations in big cities change (or don't change) over the march of time.

2019

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