This website is part of The New York Public Library's Online Exhibition Archive. For current classes, programs, and exhibitions, please visit

14th St.

Street photography was well established as a genre in New York by the seminal work of William Klein and Robert Frank in the 1950s. The tradition was transformed in the 1970s through the more personal work of photographers like Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand. Perhaps the best-known example of this newer kind of personal documentary work, applied to a specific neighborhood in New York, is Bruce Davidson’s East 100th Street project, funded by an NEA grant in 1966–1968 and published in book form in 1970. From 1976 to 1981, the NEA supported more than 70 projects documenting American cities. One such project, Sy Rubin and Larry Siegel’s 14th St., demonstrates the continuing vitality of street photography into the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Sponsored by the Midtown Y and funded in part by the NEA and the J. M. Kaplan Fund, the project documented Manhattan’s longest crosstown street, which was then considered the dividing line between downtown and midtown. Running from the Con Edison plant at the East River to the meatpacking district near the Hudson, 14th Street was, and still is, home to the “Y.” Although much of the flavor of 14th Street remains today, many of the once familiar places Rubin and Siegel captured have since disappeared: May’s Department Store is now the site of a Whole Foods Market, and Lüchow’s restaurant, the Palladium, and Julian’s Billiards have been replaced by buildings owned by New York University, which now has a dominant presence in the East Village. On the West Side, the meatpacking district has undergone perhaps an even more extreme transformation and is now home to high-end fashion boutiques and trendy restaurants.

The photographs in this section are gelatin silver prints by Sy Rubin (1931–2002), taken between 1979 and 1981 and donated by Rubin to the permanent collection of the Midtown Y Photography Gallery. They were included in the exhibition 14th St., on display at the Midtown Y from February 17 to March 21, 1982, and published in a book of the same title in 1982. They are presented here in the original exhibition order designated by Rubin.

“East of Union Square”
“Union Square Park”
“Outside May’s Department Store, Union Square”

 “High School Students, Eighth Avenue”
“Corner of Seventh Avenue”
“Festival, Lüchow’s, Irving Place”

 “Julian’s Billiards—Irving Place”
“Corner of Third Avenue”
“Meat Market District, Ninth Avenue”

 “Union Square Subway Station”
“Between Third and Fourth Avenues”
“Corner Newsstand, Avenue of the Americas”

“Corner of Seventh Avenue”
“Between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue”
“Shoeshine Stand, Union Square Park”

“May’s Department Store, Broadway”
“Between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas”
“Avenue C”

 “Between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas”
 “Morelli’s Dance Studio, Corner of Avenue of the Americas”
 “Bus Stop, Avenue of the Americas Between Fifth and University”

 “Reception, Church of the Beloved Disciple, Between Eighth and Ninth Avenues”
 “Between First and Second Avenues”
 “Between Fourth Avenue and Broadway”

“Corner of Eighth Avenue”
 “Employment Agency, Near Eighth Avenue”
 “Novelty Shop, Near Irving Place”

“Meat Market District, Ninth Avenue”
 “Near Seventh Avenue”
 “Students, Bus Stop, Eighth Avenue”

“Con Edison Plant, East End of 14th St.”
 “Between Second and Third Avenues”
 “Corner of Third Avenue”

“Second Avenue”
 “Near Fifth Avenue”
 “S. Klein Building, Fourth Avenue”

“Between Eighth and Ninth Avenues”
 “Corner of Eighth Avenue”
 “Between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas”

“Façade of Former Theatre, Irving Place”
 “Between Fifth Avenue and Avenue of the Americas”
 “Near Fourth Avenue”

“The Palladium”
 “Cigar Store, Corner of Third Avenue”
 “14th Street Subway Station”

“The Plasmatics at the Palladium, Irving Place”
 “Between Third Avenue and Irving Place”
 “Between Fourth Avenue and Irving Place”

14th streetHandbill for the exhibition 14th St., 1982



Sy Rubin (1931–2002) and Larry Siegel (b. 1934)
14th St.
New York: Matrix Publications, Inc., 1982

2 copies: The Midtown Y Photography Gallery Archives; and The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, Photography Collection

Rubin  Rubin  Rubin

Paul Goldberger, then the architecture critic for The New York Times, wrote the introduction.

Next Section