Infamous New York City Dive Bar As Seen from a Bartender’s Point of View

Cool Old Photos – 1970’s Times Square Pictures of Pimps, Prostitutes, Tourists, Drag Queens and Homeless

Terminal Bar Photos - 1970s New York - Sheldon Nadelman

Terminal Bar was once known as one of the roughest bars in New York City. Situated across the street from the Port Authority Bus Station and near Times Square, the bar was frequented by customers of all types. Thrill-seeking tourists, prostitutes and pimps, midtown office men and women, and drag queens were all regular patrons to frequent the notorious establishment.

In 1972 a young bartender, Sheldon Nadleman, worked at the bar his father-in-law owned and decided it would be interesting to photo document his customers. This started a 10-year-span of photography that ran up until the bar shut down in 1982. “After 10 years I had a couple thousand portraits. It was simple as that. I was on a mission—don’t ask me why,” Nadleman later said. Sheldon liked to go beyond simply pouring drinks for his customers. He tried to get to know them on a personal level. And, he liked to take their portraits. “After 10 years I had a couple thousand portraits. It was simple as that. I was on a mission—don’t ask me why,” he said.

1970s New York City - Terminal Bar Photos - Sheldon Nadelman - 1972
Historic Terminal Bar as seen from the Port Authority – 1981. (Sheldon Nadelman)

 

Nadelman’s black and white photos captured a wide assortment of characters, the surrounding neighborhood, and occasionally, the Terminal Bar itself.

“In the beginning it was just the regulars and they were willing and able to be photographed,” Nadelman said in an interview. “Then there were just faces that came in and I knew I wouldn’t see them again. But they looked interesting. I’d say 90 percent of the people were willing to be photographed.”

Working Girl near Terminal Bar - New York City - 1970s
A working girl is seen here hanging out near Terminal Bar. Times Square area, New York City – 1970s. (Sheldon Nadelman)

 

Sitting dormant for many years, Sheldon’s grown son, Stefan, came across the collection in the early 2000s. Stefan realized the photos were an important historical artifact of New York City’s past and began scanning, sorting and printing his father’s negatives. The photos you see on this page are just a small portion of the collection, now offered in a book – Terminal Bar – from Princeton Architectural Press, as well as a documentary created by Stefan that won several awards, including the 2003 Sundance Jury Prize.

Duchess - Drank Rum and Coke - 1973 - Terminal Bar
A customer named “Duchess” – Terminal Bar – 1973. Duchess drank Rum and Coke.

 

Terminal Bar customer portrait - 1975 - Sheldon Nadelman
Unidentified Terminal Bar customer – 1975. (Sheldon Nadleman)

 

Shep - 1974 - Terminal Bar customer - Sheldon Nadelman
A customer named “Shep” is photographed here wearing a pull-tab hat. Terminal Bar, New York, 1974.

 

Terminal Bar patrons Photo - New York - 1970s
Inside Terminal Bar – 1970s.

 

Ruth Brown - 1977 - Terminal Bar customer portrait
Ruth Brown – 1977 Terminal Bar customer portrait by Sheldon Nadelman.

 

Woman Selling Newspaper - Outside Terminal Bar - 1970s
A woman selling newspapers outside Terminal Bar. New York City, Times Square area – 1970s. (Sheldon Nadelman)

 

Old New York Photo - Inside Terminal Bar - 1970s

The Greek - 1974 - Terminal Bar customer - Sheldon Nadelman
1974 Terminal Bar customer “The Greek.”

 

Stopless Dancing Sign - Near Terminal Bar - New York City - 1970s
“Stopless Dancing” sign outside Terminal Bar – 1970s New York City. Was there a ban on “topless” dancing businesses back then?

 

Man Sleeping in a Trash Can Photo - Terminal Bar - New York
Man sleeping in a trash can outside Terminal Bar. New York City – 1970s.

 

Photo - Woman on the Streets outside Terminal Bar - 1970s
Woman on the streets outside Terminal Bar. Times Square area, New York City, 1970s. (Sheldon Nadelman)

 

Photo - Inside Terminal Bar - New York 1970s
Patrons and a bartender inside Terminal Bar – 1970s.

 

Old New York City Photo - Paul - 1981 - Terminal Bar
Bartender “Paul” is shown here pouring drinks at Terminal Bar – 1981. (Sheldon Nadelman)

 

Old Photo - Working Girls outside Terminal Bar - 1970s New York
Working girls are seen here outside Terminal Bar in New York City – vintage 1970s photograph.

 

(All Photos © Copyright Sheldon Nadelman)

Brian Douglas

Brian Douglas is a digital marketing professional and entrepreneur located in Louisville, Kentucky and the founder of Tribupedia.com.

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