Photo Book Review: Terminal Bar, A Photographic Record Of New York’s Most Notorious Watering Hole

The Terminal Bar opened its doors in New York City for the first time in 1958 and was located just across the street from the Port Authority bus terminal, near (world famous) Times Square. In 1972, Sheldon (Shelly) Nadelman began working there as a bartender and stayed for the next ten-years until it closed in 1982. Featured in the iconic Scorsese film Taxi Driver, at that time the Terminal Bar was know for being one of the roughest dive bars in the city. The truth of the matter is very different since this dark, dangerous reputation was not deserved and was simply a media fabrication.

Shelly Nadelman discovered that the Terminal Bar was really just a refuge, a sort of home for those who didn’t really fit in anywhere else. During his time there Shelly captured thousands of black-and-white images of his fellow employees (bartenders and food counter staff) and customers: the locals, drag queens, pimps and prostitutes, tourists and office workers who would stop by for a quick drink on their way home. Terminal Bar: A Photographic Record of New York's Most Notorious Watering Hole offers the reader a collection of 900 candid duotone portraits that represnt the stark reality of the bar, not the Hollywood vision. Presented in groups broken down by year or name, each section presenting a glimpse into Shelly’s unique and interesting world where all were welcome and everyone fit in.

Terminal Bar: A Photographic Record Of New York’s Most Notorious Watering Hole; by Sheldon Nadelman and Stefan Nadelman; Princeton Architectural Press; $35; (ISBN: 978-1-61689-213-5)

More info on the book here.