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Guide to the Bob Edelson Photographs
 PR 359

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on April 17, 2018 using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Edelson, Bob, 1934-
Title: Bob Edelson photographs
Dates: 1970s-1980s
Abstract: The collection includes 55 photographs and one poster by photographer Bob Edelson. The images, taken in the 1970s-1980s, are primarily of the SoHo neighborhood of New York City. These images include exterior views of restaurants, cafes, stores, music venues, and other commercial establishments in SoHo and, to a limited extent, the immediate areas to the north and south. Pedestrians, customers sitting at sidewalk tables and window seats, street art/graffiti, murals, sidewalk cellar entrances, and other features of the urban streetscape appear throughout.
Quantity: 4.0 Linear feet in one flat box and one oversize flat file
Call Phrase: PR 359

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Biographical/Historical Note

Bob Edelson was born 21 September 1934 in Brooklyn, NY. He earned his B.S and M.A. degrees in psychology, which led to a career of over 25 years as a marketing/creative consultant to several major consumer products companies and advertising agencies. He retired in the early 1980s, moving from New York to South Florida. Although in his retirement years Edelson began pursuing his artistic pursuit of photography more fully, he had been a serious photographer since some time in the 1970s. His work from the 1970s and into the 1990s led to four books published with his images of streetscapes in lower Manhattan (especially the SoHo, or "South of Houston Street," neighborhood) and street art/graffiti.

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Scope and Contents note

The collection includes 55 photographs and one poster by photographer Bob Edelson (born 1934). The images were taken in the 1970s-1980s, primarily in the New York City neighborhood of SoHo ("South of Houston Street"), with some from Greenwich Village (north of Houston Street to 14th Street) and from the area where SoHo blends into Little Italy and Chinatown. The photographs primarily capture the exterior views and signage of commercial establishments (restaurants, cafes, stores, music venues), often with direct, head-on shots, but also with wide angle views down street blocks. Pedestrians and customers sitting at sidewalk tables or at window seats frequently appear in the photographs. Wall murals and street art/graffiti are found in many of the photographs. Most of the photographs have identifiable locations through street signs or signage, though some are uncertain. None of the photographs are titled or captioned here, but most, perhaps all, are found in one of Edelson's books, which are also held by N-YHS; the books include the photographer's descriptive captions. Although most of the photographs are black and white, many are color. The container list provides more detail on sizes, color/b&w, and identifiable locations.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged by size of photograph.

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Access Points

Subject Topics

  • Storefronts -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Street art -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Streetscapes (Urban design) -- New York (State) -- New York

Subject Places

  • SoHo (New York, N.Y.) -- Photographs

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Available by advance appointment only. To schedule an appointment, contact the Print Room Librarian at printroom@nyhistory.org.

Use Restrictions

Application to use images from this collection for publication should be made in writing to:

Department of Rights and Reproductions, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024-5194, rightsandrepro@nyhistory.org, 212-485-9228.

Preferred Citation Note

This collection should be cited as Bob Edelson photographs, PR 359, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Credit line: Gift of the photographer.

Separated Materials Note

The photographer also donated a copy of his four books. These were cataloged and shelved individually. These were:

Below 14th Street (F128.37.E34 B4 1994)

SoHo, New York City (F128.62.S64 E34 1993)

Street Art Noir (ND2608.2.E34 2008)

New American Street Art (ND2608.E34 1999)

Immediate Source of Acquisition Note

Gift from the photographer, Bob Edelson, September-October 2017.

Processing Information Note

The collection was processed by archivist Larry Weimer in April 2018.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Folder: FF 1 22 x 30 SoHo (one poster)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes b&w street view in SoHo Cast Iron Historic District. Signage visible for landmark status, The Second Coming department store, M-13 Gallery, Condesco Lawler Gallery, and Ariel Gallery.

Folder: FF 1 20 x 30 photographs (2)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes two color chromogenic prints: front of Manhattan Bistro (customers at window tables) and customers at sidewalk tables at Cafe Colonial (by mural based on Seurat's Le Grande Jatte).

Folder: FF 1 14 x 20 photographs (12)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes twelve color chromogenic prints: mural featuring Clorox bleach and saying "Mono-cultures Dye Out"; front of Vesuvio Bakery, 160 Prince Street (bread in window); front of La Jumelle bar/bistro, 55 Grand Street; street view at corner of Prince and Thompson (signage for Rocks in Your Head, Caffe Borgia II, Untitled, etc.); front of Dean & Deluca (with pedestrian traffic); front of Lucky Strike restaurant/bar, 59 Grand Street; Manhattan Brewing Company (parked motorcycles); corner of Prince and Mercer (Fanelli Cafe signage and adjacent brick wall); Borgia II Cafe (with customers at sidewalk tables); street view, Broome Street, including building housing Ariel Gallery; coffee and tea retailers (Porto Rico Importing Co); building housing Szoke Gallery (man on front steps). The size of some of the photos varies somewhat from 14x20.

Folder: FF 1 15 x 16 photograph (1)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes one color chromogenic prints: doorway and mural at 49 Grand Street.

Folder: FF 1 11 x 16 photograph (1)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes one color chromogenic prints: front of Ear Inn (326 Spring Street).

Box: 1 Folder : 1 11 x 14 photographs (22)

Scope and Contents Note

22 b&w gelatin silver prints with identifiable signage or other identifiers including, among others: Loew Ave. Beef Co.; Trash and Vaudeville store; Village Cigars; Arthur's Tavern (corner of 7th Ave. South and Grove Street); Crazy Fantasy XXX Video; Evolution; Savoy; La Dolce Vita (sidewalk tables); Bubby's (sidewalk tables); chess players (Washington Square Park?); shoe repair; Chatterbox laundromat; Taylor's bakery; Dalton Coffee Ltd. and Chung's Flower; fountain and arch in Washington Square Park; Raoul's.

Box: 1 Folder : 2 8 x 10 photographs (4)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes four b&w gelatin silver prints: Jerry's restaurant (101 Prince Street); The Bottom Line cabaret theater (corner Bleecker and Mercer Streets); CBGB punk music venue (315 Bowery); graffiti with police brutality theme.

Box: 1 Folder : 3 5 x 7 photographs (13)

Scope and Contents Note

Includes thirteen gelatin silver prints: Blue Note jazz club (131 West 3rd Street); Sullivan Street Playhouse, showing "The Fantasticks" (181 Sullivan Street); The Noho Star (330 Lafayette Street); Cornelia Street Cafe (29 Cornelia Street); Americana West; Time Cafe and Fez Under Time Cafe (380 Lafayette Street); Parisi Bakery (198 Mott Street); New Deal restaurant; four other unidentified locations.


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