A Visit to Times Square, 1970s

Kenneth Siegel, via the New York Times. Click to enlarge

Today Times Square in New York City looks very different than it did before its big clean up in the 1990s.  It used to be a hub of prostitution, adult bookstores, and sex shows.  You can see evidence if you look at the marquees in the background behind this group of older women.  A few don’t look very happy to be passing through what was once called “the cesspool of sin.”

My friend Sally, my go-to expert on American photography, sent me the link to this photo by Kenneth Siegel.  His archive, held at the New York Historical Society, only gives the date as sometime in the seventies.  It shows how quickly pants and pantsuits caught on in the decade.  Only one woman is wearing a skirt or dress.  The other four are in pants, many with the stiff, thick look of seventies polyester.  Bouffanty hair styles were obviously also in style for the older set.

I am fascinated by the woman on the right.  First of all, her look is different.  I think her pant suit is made of cotton, not polyester, with a kind of Western styling.  Her hairdo is less exuberant.  But most of all, she looks happy to be there.  Don’t you wonder what she was pointing at?  Perhaps it was a marquee even more explicit than “Anita Nympho.”

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4 Responses to A Visit to Times Square, 1970s

  1. eimear says:

    the lady 2nd in looks like she has seen something to make her jaw drop, chances are she is just talking – but now I know they are in the ‘cesspool of sin’ I like to think otherwise!

  2. Robert Moeller says:

    What do you make of the woman carrying the German cigarette bag? Could they be tourists? Looks like a bag she could have picked up with a duty-free purchase.

  3. It really is amazing how much Time Square has changed in 40 odd years!

  4. Pal K says:

    1973 based on the movies.
    The cigarettes (Ernst 23) were extremely popular in Germany, including West Berlin. However, their market share had been eaten into by “American style” cigarettes. I can’t find any evidence they were imported into the United States.

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