Curated by Joseph A. Gornail & Steven D. Garcia of Fine Print New York • 315 Madison Avenue • Email Us • 212.619.5446

History of New York City - 1985 to 1990

In the latter half of the 1980’s New York City was working hard to recover from the decay of the 70’s. It would take some time for the economic boom of this period to catch up with the streets, still scarred and littered with rubble. Crime would continue to dominate headlines as citizens and high profile celebrities alike dealt with the harsh reality of life. The subway would continue to play an important role in the city’s development, becoming both a system of transit and mobile galleries as local artists would treat train wagons as their canvases. Despite, or perhaps even because of the hardships, this gritty period would also be defined by great stride in arts, culture and the overall style and fashio nof being a New Yorker.

Photograph taken from the Statue of Liberty shows a recently renovated torch with lower Manhattan's skyline in the background.

1985: Statue of Liberty Flame

Photograph taken from the Statue of Liberty shows a recently renovated torch with lower Manhattan's skyline in the background.

Photograph taken from the rooftop of Ellis Island Baggage and Dormitory Building, shows downtown Manhattan skyline in the background.

1985: Ellis Island, Baggage and Dormitory Building

Photograph taken from the rooftop of Ellis Island Baggage and Dormitory Building, shows downtown Manhattan skyline in the background.

Photograph of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers with the silhouette of Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in the foreground.

1985: World Trade Center and Saint Nicholas Church

Photograph of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers with the silhouette of Saint Nicholas Orthodox Church in the foreground.

Photograph of Ellis Island Ferry Building on the New York Harbor, taken from the south.

1985: Ellis Island Ferry Building

Photograph of Ellis Island Ferry Building on the New York Harbor, taken from the south.

Constructed as an unified group in 1835-36, these three brick buildings are examples of the Greek Revival commercial style. Recently restored, these buildings are now part of the South Street Seaport Museum.

1985: South Street Seaport Museum

Constructed as an unified group in 1835-36, these three brick buildings are examples of the Greek Revival commercial style. Recently restored, these buildings are now part of the South Street Seaport Museum.

Photograph of the subway station at 71st Street and Broadway for Interborough Rapid Transit (Original Line).

1986: 71st and Broadway

Photograph of the subway station at 71st Street and Broadway for Interborough Rapid Transit (Original Line).

Photograph of 96th Street Subway Station showing wall and ceiling treatment along the uptown platform.

1986: 96th Street Train Station

Photograph of 96th Street Subway Station showing wall and ceiling treatment along the uptown platform.

Photograph of the tile-clad control room at City Hall Subway Station in downtown Manhattan.

1986: City Hall Subway Station Control Room

Photograph of the tile-clad control room at City Hall Subway Station in downtown Manhattan.

Photograph of the 110th Street and Lenox Avenue Station platform and control area.

1986: 110th Street Train Platform

Photograph of the 110th Street and Lenox Avenue Station platform and control area.

Photograph of Manhattan Valley Viaduct station's east stairway and platform showing a new escalator built over the stairs.

1986: 125th Street and Broadway

Photograph of Manhattan Valley Viaduct station's east stairway and platform showing a new escalator built over the stairs.

Photograph of the platform and tracks of 125th Street and Broadway station (formerly Manhattan Street) on Manhattan Valley Viaduct.

1986: 125th Street Train Platform

Photograph of the platform and tracks of 125th Street and Broadway station (formerly Manhattan Street) on Manhattan Valley Viaduct.

Photograph of the Jackson Avenue elevated station for the Interborough Rapid Transit subway in the Bronx.

1986: 152nd Street and Westchester Avenue

Photograph of the Jackson Avenue elevated station for the Interborough Rapid Transit subway in the Bronx.

Photograph looking south on the northbound platform of the Third Avenue Elevated Line at 169th Street in the Bronx.

1986: 169th Street Train Platform

Photograph looking south on the northbound platform of the Third Avenue Elevated Line at 169th Street in the Bronx.

A sailor on liberty during Fleet Week photographs a New York City policeman on horseback in Times Square.

1989: Sailor Photographing a Police Man in Times Square

A sailor on liberty during Fleet Week photographs a New York City policeman on horseback in Times Square.

Three sailors stop to look around Times Square while on liberty during Fleet Week.

1989: Three Sailors Posing in Times Square

Three sailors stop to look around Times Square while on liberty during Fleet Week.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is History101.nyc?

Welcome to the History of New York City - A Unique Online Gallery of NYC's Origins, Curated and Digitally Restored by Fine Print New York.

We're opening our archives to present this Collection of Vintage Photos, Historical Images and Rare Lithographs. This Exclusive Series of High Quality Art Prints are only Available for Purchase Exclusively on this Site.

Who started History101.nyc?

Joseph Gornail, printer/photographer and founder of Fine Print New York. Joseph grew up in SoHo, Manhattan and is part of a long lineage of NYC printers, learning the family trade from his grandfather. While working for Dolo Records/Stretch Armstrong in 1996, Joseph founded All City Marketing & Printing, and in 1999 Co-Founded the legendary street wear company "Orchard Street " with lifelong friends Benjamin Holloway and Greig Bennett. Fine Print NYC was established in 2004 with a Nike project being the launchpad for a commercial printing company that has not only survived, but thrived in the digital age.

Steven Garcia, designer/illustrator and creative director of Fine Print New York. Born and raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Steven attended Fashion Industries High School and F.I.T. before building a successful career at Saatchi & Saatchi for as a professional retoucher and storyboard artist in 1995. Steven started ShinyDesign in 1998 and partnered with Fine Print in 2004 as the exclusive design firm for the company. Steven has independently worked on major advertising campaigns for many brands over the years, such as Snapple, The Waldorf Astoria and Sony to name a few.

Together, Joseph & Steven are responsible for the curation and direction of the History101.nyc project, which has been under development since 2006. They have a long history of collaborating together, going back as far as 2001 when Joseph was gallery manager and Steven was a curator at The New York City Urban Experience, an art gallery & museum that was located at 85 South Street and owned by Mike Saes of the Nike Bridge Runners and True Yorkers.

What Time Periods, Eras, Decades of NYC History are available?

We cover a great portion of the city's history, ranging from its earliest days as New Amsterdam to the late 1980s. Artists are currently working on photos from the 90s to present day,

Here's a current list of what is covered:

Dutch Era: When New York Was New Amsterdam

NYC in the 1600s

Georgian Era

NYC in the 1700s • NYC from 1800 to 1850

Victorian Era

NYC in the 1850s • NYC in the 1860s • NYC in the 1870s • NYC in the 1880s

Progressive Era

NYC in the 1890s • NYC from 1900 to 1905 • 1905 to 1910 • 1910 to 1915 • 

World War 1

NYC from 1915 to 1920

Art Deco

NYC from 1920 to 1925 • NYC from 1925 to 1930

Depression Era

NYC from 1930 to 1935 • NYC from 1935 to 1940

World War 2

NYC from 1940 to 1945

MidCentury Modern Era

NYC from 1945 to 1950 • 1950 to 1955 • 1955 to 1960 • 1960 to 1965 • 1965 to 1970

Energy Crisis

NYC from 1970 to 1975 • 1975 to 1980

Reagan Era

NYC from 1980 to 1985 • 1985 to 1990
How many historical Images are on this site?

There are currently 714 photos, lithographs, illustrations and maps on this site. Each one has been digitally restored and cleaned up by hand, which makes this collection truly unique.

Can I License Any of These Images?

Digital licenses are available for educational institutions (schools, universities, non-profit organizations). Please contact legal@fineprintnyc.com to discuss conditions for licensing.

NOTE: Any form of commercialization or redistribution of these images, either as tangible goods or third party licenses, is expressly forbidden.

Can I purchase prints of the historical images available on the site?

History101.nyc is an ad-free and non-profit learning resource. We do not sell prints of these images. All operational costs are covered by Fine Print NYC

Do you accept admissions to this collection?

Absolutely! Feel free to send us an email with a preview of the image and we will let you know if it's a good fit for the archives.

How do you handle feedback or corrections regarding the historical context of images?

We welcome any feedback that you may have. If it proves to be historically accurate the changes will be reflected on the site shortly after our correspondence.

Do you collaborate with other historical societies or archives?

We have collaborated with NYC's Municipal Archives, The Tenemant Museum, Bronx Historical Society and a number of prominent NYC photographers to produce a series of limited edition postcards which free of charge, but only available via street distribution, primarily in Manhattan.

Do you also provide image restoration as a service for personal photos?

Yes, we can repair, restore and cleanup your old family photos, slides and negatives. You can either send us the digital files or the original photos to be professionally scanned.

Can you repair any type of image damage?

We can restore just about any level of damage or signs of aging, within reason. As long as most of the photo is intact we cn work with it. The one flaw we cannot fix is source material that is blurry. A poorly take photo can only be improved so much.

@History101NYC

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History101.NYC is an ad-free learning resource available to the public at no charge.
This project is dedicated to exploring New York’s fascinating heritage through the restoration of vintage photographs and prints.