A Photographic Tour of Manhattan in the 1990s that will Reignite Nostalgia and Showcase the Borough’s Timeless Elegance

The 1990s in Manhattan were more than just a bridge between two millennia; they were a vibrant era of transformation, echoing with the sounds of the past while embracing the promises of the future. Streets thrummed with new rhythms, iconic television shows celebrated the city’s character, and every corner seemed to whisper of stories waiting to be told. Dive into the captivating world of 1990s Manhattan, where every alleyway and avenue reflected a city on the cusp of a new era.

From Skyline to Street Art

The ’90s in Manhattan bore witness to the continued metamorphosis of the city’s iconic skyline. As skyscrapers reached new heights, so too did the urban art scene, with graffiti artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat leading the charge. The streets became a gallery, showcasing the city’s pulse and passion, reflecting the decade’s blend of grit and glamour.

The Soundtrack of the Streets

Music was evolving, and Manhattan was at the heart of it all. The hip-hop scene grew exponentially, with artists like Jay-Z and Nas narrating life in the Big Apple. Clubs reverberated with the sounds of grunge, alternative rock, and pop, as MTV’s influence seeped into the culture. The CD boom was in full swing, with Tower Records on Broadway becoming a mecca for music enthusiasts.

Silver Screens & Broadway Dreams

The cinema of the ’90s in Manhattan was nothing short of iconic. With movies like “You’ve Got Mail” portraying the quaint charm of the Upper West Side and the rise of indie films, Manhattan’s theaters were always packed. On Broadway, shows like “Rent” brought contemporary issues to the stage, encapsulating the city’s essence and energy in every performance.

Coffee Shops & Digital Hops

The ’90s also saw the rise of internet cafes and the beginnings of the digital revolution. Manhattanites witnessed the birth of the World Wide Web, with many experiencing their first email or chat room in cozy cafes scattered around the borough. This digital dawn signaled a new era, with Manhattan once again at the forefront of change.

The 1990s saw Manhattan’s literary scene bloom in tandem with its coffee culture. Independent bookstores and cozy coffee shops became the haunts of budding writers and established authors. The renowned “The New York Trilogy” by Paul Auster or Candace Bushnell’s “Sex and the City” captured the nuances of Manhattan life, influencing a generation. Coffee houses, on the other hand, transformed into spaces of intellectual discourse and creativity. This was the era when Central Perk, the fictional coffee spot in the TV show “Friends,” became an emblematic representation of Manhattan’s thriving café scene.

#1 Abandoned Cars Under Brooklyn Bridge, Two Abandoned Cars Under the Brooklyn Bridge with Manhattan Bridge and East River in Background, Manhattan, 1990

#2 Snow Plows in Tandem Rolling North on 1st Ave. and 22nd St., Trying to Keep Up with the Snowstorm Blizzard, Manhattan, 1993

#3 A Taxi in the Snow During the Blizzard, Manhattan, 1996

#4 Panorama of Lower Manhattan with World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, Manhattan

#5 Exterior View of the Entrance to Bloomingdale’s Department Store on 59th Street, Manhattan, 1992

#6 Graffiti-Covered Facade of an Empty Building in the Lower East Side with Text ‘Welcome to Our Block, Please Keep It Clean’, Manhattan, 1990

#7 Commuters Prepare to Exit the Robert Fulton Ferry at Battery Park City with Jersey City Skyline Visible, Manhattan, 1997

#8 The Science and Business Library at 34th St. and Madison Ave., Manhattan, 1997

#9 Appreciative Crowd at Paul Simon’s Concert in Central Park, Manhattan, 1991

#11 Marquee at Radio City Music Hall Advertising a Live Concert by Aretha Franklin, Manhattan, 1993

#12 New York Stock Exchange with Statue in Foreground, Manhattan

#13 Many Pedestrians Passing Man Going Through Garbage on 72nd St. & Broadway, Manhattan

#14 Person Lying on Bench Overlooking Lower Manhattan Including World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, Manhattan

#15 Tiffany & Co. Store Framed by Looming Fifth Avenue Skyscrapers, Manhattan

#16 Tugboat at Dock at South Street Seaport in Frozen East River During Cold Spell, Manhattan

#17 Daiwa Bank Trust Co. Facade at 75 Rockefeller Plaza, Indicted for Conspiracy & Fraud, Manhattan

#18 Sign for Old Bar and Grill Offering Steaks and Chops at 2 South Street, Manhattan, 1990

#19 View of Abandoned Buildings on West 42nd Street Near Times Square, Manhattan, 1996

#20 Crowd Outside the Motown Cafe on West 57th Street, Manhattan, 1996

#21 Cornflower Queen & Princesses During the 36th Annual German-American Steuben Parade on 5th Avenue, Manhattan, 1993

#23 Marquees and Closed Theaters on West 43rd Street in Times Square, Manhattan, 1994

#24 Crossroads of Wall Street and Nassau Street in the Financial District, Lower Manhattan, 1994

#25 View of the Astor Place Subway Kiosk, Manhattan, 1990

#26 Exterior View of the Building at Park Avenue and 73rd Street, Manhattan, 1995

#27 People Milling About Battery Park and the City’s Waterfront, Manhattan, 1994

#28 View Looking at 70 Pine Street from the Steps of Federal Hall, Manhattan, 1992

#29 View of the Metro Theater at 2626 Broadway, Manhattan, 1994

#30 View of the Lobby of the Javits Center, Manhattan, 1990

#31 Sidewalk Mural on a Bricked-Over Building at 21 and 23 Avenue C, Lower East Side, Manhattan, 1990

#32 Commuters Exiting the Robert Fulton Ferry in Battery Park City, with the Hudson River and Jersey City Skyline Visible, Manhattan, 1997.

#33 Three Women Pushing Dual Baby Carriages at Edgar Street and Trinity Place Intersection, Manhattan, 1997.

#35 Rollerbladers in Union Square Park, Manhattan, 1995.

#36 View of 7th Avenue with Christopher Street Subway Station and Village Cigars, Manhattan, 1991.

#37 Rock Band Papa Vegas Performing at The Bowery Ballroom, Manhattan, 1999.

#39 Outdoor Marketplace in Union Square Park, Manhattan, 1996.

#40 Several People Walking Across a Vacant Lot in Harlem, Manhattan, 1997.

#41 View of the Lower Manhattan Skyline, Including the World Trade Center, Manhattan, Circa 1990.

#42 ACT UP Demonstration in Foley Square, Manhattan, 1990.

#43 Clean Washing Hanging One Block West of Times Square, Manhattan, 1977.

#44 Shoppers on West 42nd Street in the Times Square Area, Manhattan, 1975.

#48 Fire Equipment and Men Fighting Blaze in Times Square, Manhattan.

#49 Allied Chemical Tower During Renovation, Times Square, Manhattan, Circa 1960.

#50 Camel Cigarette Sign Puffing Away in Times Square, Manhattan.

#51 Neon Signs on Times Square at Night, Manhattan, 1956.

#52 General View of Times Square Looking North from 43d St., Manhattan.

#53 Elevated View of Times Square from the New York Times Building, Manhattan, 1952.

#55 Pedestrian Waiting to Cross Seventh Avenue in Times Square, News of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s Plane Wreckage, Manhattan, 1999.

#57 Homeless Woman Below ‘Welcome to New York’ Sign, Times Square, Manhattan, 1976.

#58 Times Square Billboards Advertising Gordon’s Gin and Haig Whisky, Manhattan, 1971.

#59 Corner of Prince St. and West Broadway, Last Place Where 6-Year-Old Etan Patz Was Seen, Manhattan.

#60 Building at 59 Wall Street Equipped with General Electric Elevator Equipment, Manhattan.

#61 Boy Riding on Neon “Calypso” Amusement Ride, Manhattan.

#62 Musical Theatre Culture Broadway, Book of Mormon, Manhattan.

#63 Advertising Poster of the Musical Cats Outside the Winter Garden Theatre, Manhattan, 1990s

#64 Exterior View of the Shuttered Movieplex 42 Theater on West 42nd Street, Times Square, Manhattan, 1996

#65 View of the Entrance to the Millennium Hilton on Church Street, Manhattan, 1996

#66 People Sitting on Stone Benches at World Trade Center Plaza, Manhattan, 1993

#67 Two People Practicing Tai Chi in City Hall Park, Manhattan, 1996

#68 Child in Front of the Fountain in City Hall Park, Manhattan, 1996

#69 Two People Reading Newspapers on 5th Avenue Outside Central Park, Manhattan, 1993

#70 People Sitting on Stone Benches on Fulton Street, Manhattan, 1993

#71 People Seated on a Double-Decker Sightseeing Bus on 5th Avenue, Manhattan, 1994

#74 Anti-Semitism Rally at Union Square Park, Manhattan, 1991

#76 Anti-Semitism Rally at Union Square Park, Manhattan, 1991

#82 Cars Drive Through Flooded Street on FDR Dr. at York Ave. and 68th St., Manhattan, 1995

#83 ‘The Sphere’ at World Trade Center Plaza, Manhattan, 1997

#84 Shuttered Harem Theater on West 42nd Street, Times Square, Manhattan, 1996

#85 Manhattan Bridge and Downtown Skyline, Manhattan, 1991

#86 Manhattan Bridge and Downtown Skyline, Manhattan, 1991

#87 Interior of the Last Remaining Automat Cafeteria on 42nd Street, Manhattan, 1991

#89 Crossroad Between Park Avenue and the 63rd Street, Manhattan, 1990s

#90 Abandoned Lot on East 8th Street, Manhattan, 1990s

#91 Water Main Break at 7th Ave and 40th St., Times Square, Manhattan, 1995

Written by Wendy Robert

Brand journalist, Ghostwriter and Proud New Yorker. New York is not a city – it’s a world.

Leave a Reply

Comment using name and email. Or Register an account

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings