Relive New York’s Wild ‘80s With Blondie, LL Cool J, and More

There wasn’t exactly a music scene in 1980s-era New York City, so much as countless hot spots spanning Harlem to Saint Mark’s Place to the Bronx. Of course, things aren’t what they used to be—it’s been ages since what’s now a kitschy, rock ‘n’ roll-themed John Varvatos shop replaced CBGB, the so-called birthplace of punk. In fact, this summer marks a full 40 years since the launch of MTV (the very early days of which actually bore some resemblance to TV Party, the cool kids’ public-access network of choice). The Museum of the City of New York is commemorating that anniversary with “New York, New Music: 1980-1986,” an exhibition featuring memorabilia like Bad Brains fliers, Madonna records, Keith Haring t-shirts, and a zoot suit worn by Kid Creole. But the era mostly comes alive via photographs, documenting Klaus Nomi’s performance at Hurrah, MC battles at the Ecstasy Garage Disco, and much, much, more. Step back in time with a look inside, here.

Charlie Ahearn, Debbie Harry, Fab 5 Freddy, Grandmaster Flash, Tracy Wormworth, and Chris Stein, 1981.

Julia Gorton, James Chance at Artists Space, 1978.

Janette Beckman, LL Cool J, 1985.

GODLIS, Joey Ramone, St. Marks Place, 1981.

Bill Bernstein, DJ Larry Levan at Paradise Garage, 1979.

Charlie Ahearn, Debbie Harry, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Fab 5 Freddy with others on the set of Blondie’s “Rapture” music video, 1981.

Julia Gorton, Lydia Lunch, Adele Bertei, and Anya Phillips at CBGB, c. 1979.

Harvey Wang, Klaus Nomi, Hurrah’s, New York City, 1980.

Joe Conzo, Cold Crush Brothers, 1981.

Allan Tannenbaum, Laurie Anderson, 1983.

William Coupon, Wynton Marsalis, 1980.

William Coupon, Wynton Marsalis, 1980.

Allan Tannenbaum, The Lounge Lizards at Max’s Kansas City, July 5, 1979.

William Coupon, Miles Davis, 1986.

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