Throwback Thursday: 1980s Street Life, ‘One Person Only’

Photographs and Text by Stephen Harmon

I moved to the Upper West Side in 1978 and was fascinated by the street life and the people I saw. It was a time of great diversity and everyone seemed to fit in. The people I photographed throughout the 1980s had dignity and great humanity. As I look at the photos, it seems like a distant time in a distant place. A friend of mine says the 1980s is a vanished time. During that decade, I made over 500 photographs of people in the neighborhood — one person only.

ART, HISTORY | 23 comments | permalink


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    1. Clarence says:


      Photos along with the Beatles in background singing….

      All my troubles seemed so far away
      Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
      Oh, I believe in yesterday


    2. yoma43 says:

      These are fabulous. I hope you’ll be able to post more here every few weeks… or at your leisure.

      Till then, thank you for sharing thought-provoking visual moments from an era where people actually looked at other people instead of their phones.

    3. Dominic Frigosi says:

      Good stuff. I hope you never stopped taking pictures. Where was that diner?

    4. rudy franchi says:

      And idea of the of the location/name of the dineresque interior with the red stools? Rudy

      • bonnie says:

        Don’t remember the name but I think the diner was on Amsterdam between 73rd & 74th.

      • elliott vizansky says:

        the hollywood diner was on columbus avenue between 73 rd and 74 th streets // great french toast !!

      • Delphic gadfly says:

        Amsterdam Diner, I believe. Amsterdam between 73rd and 74th, east side of the street, but no longer there.

    5. Nelson says:

      Love these! Thank you for sharing!

    6. Joanna says:

      Oh WOW these pictures are just fabulous!! Thank you so much for sharing! I think my fav might be the lady in the blue double-breasted dress. Or the lovely doorman. Just wonderful.

    7. Will says:

      outside of no internet access, these were great times.

    8. elliott vizansky says:

      the hollywood diner was on columbus avenue between 73 rd street and 74 th street // great french toast !

    9. Margaret Malone says:

      Wonderful faces!

    10. Gemmag says:

      More,more,more…just wonderful!

    11. Steevie says:

      Very interesting pictures. I spent a lot of time studying them. One that had me puzzled was the guy at the hot dog cart. Above his head is a sign that says, FRENCH POSTCARDS-LOADS OF FUN-CBS. I wondered what that could be. A little research showed that in 1979 there was a movie, “French Postcards”. The local news used to have movie reviewers. I guess the reviewer at CBS thought the movie was loads of fun and theater management put that comment on their marquee.

      • elliott vizansky says:

        FRENCH POSTCARDS was a 1979 romantic comedy with Debra Winger and Mandy Patinkin , among others

    12. Lauren says:

      Love love love these pictures! Thank you for sharing, would love to see more. You should consider a show somewhere, maybe NY Historical Society?

    13. Sarah says:


    14. Lisa Kohler says:

      I was so happy to see the picture of the “accordion man”!
      I loved hearing his music waft theough the air over 72nd st & into my apt windows . He was a wonderful gift to the neighborhood. If only the Hollywood Diner could have held on as the neighborhood changed. Lovely memories, thanks!

    15. Meg P. says:

      More please!

    16. karen roberts says:

      Omg The Amsterdam Diner on 73rd Street! My husband and I went every Sunday morning. I loved that place. thanks for the picture!!

    17. I do miss a good diner, especially after a gorgeous black & white movie at the Thalia (maybe Bergman’s SEVENTH SEAL?)… moments fast frozen into personal history; too soon the sepia memory.

    18. Lori says:

      Great photographs, thank you!

    19. 🌹 Rosie PANDALIANO says:

      Thought provoking …
      Were is everybody now.
      Keep showing pictures