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April 18, 2023

Candid Photographs of Lou Reed on the Streets in New York City in the Early 1980s

Born in Brooklyn and growing up on Long Island, Lou Reed—and the Velvet Underground—were quintessentially of New York. In these pictures, taken in the early 1980s, Reed takes us on a tour of his city.

Reed’s former band, the Velvet Underground, were at the peak of their cult popularity in the late 1980s, but his solo career had hit several lows during the 1980s. The widespread popularity of New York reignited his career to the extent the Velvet Underground were revived for a world tour.

New York is the fifteenth solo studio album by Lou Reed, released in January 1989. The album received universal critical acclaim upon release, and is widely considered to be among Reed’s strongest solo efforts. It is highly regarded for the strength and force of its lyrical content; Reed stated that he required simple music so that it would not distract from his frank lyrics. The single “Dirty Blvd.” was a number-one hit on the newly created Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart for four weeks.

Reed on the street in New York City, 1981.

For a 1982 portrait session, Reed buys flowers and oranges at a New York City market.

Reed with flowers on New Year’s Day, 1982.

Check out the 1980s era subway entrance, 1982.



Coffee at Cafe Figaro in the West Village in 1982.

Back at Cafe Figaro in Greenwich Village, 1982.

Another portrait in the city, 1984.


Portrait at a newsstand, 1984.


Window shopping on the Upper West Side in 1984.

Posing again at an Upper West Side phone booth in 1984.

(Photos: Getty Images, via Considerable)


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