Sheldon Nadelman worked as a barman from from 1972 to 1981 at the Terminal Bar on Eighth and West 41st, opposite the Port Authority Bus Terminal near Times Square. In this time he would ask his many customers to sit for a portrait producing a body of work amassing to 2,600 photographs. All these photos have been catalogued by his son Stefan and show a real glimpse into the gritty world of NYC in the 1970’s.
The video above if from his son’s 2002 2003 Sundance Jury Prize winner for short film explores the customers who frequented the Terminal Bar.
Sheldon started working at the Terminal Bar in 1972, the bar was run at the time by his father in law & he bought his camera, a $85 Pentax, a few years before this start. Taking a commercial photography course in 1971 so he could learn to print what he shot and the camera itself. Sheldon says of this schooling “As long as the camera was doing that [light metering a little bright] and I was focused in, I got a print. The rest of what the school was teaching? Garbage.”
A 176 book Terminal Bar: A Photographic Record of New York’s Most Notorious Watering Hole containing 900 of his photographs is now available from Princeton Architectural Press.