A gritty portrayal of the 1980s Lower East Side

A gritty portrayal of the 1980s Lower East Side

Ken Schles' Night Walk — Underground cult classic body of photography Invisible City, by LES documentarian Ken Schles, reissued for the Twenty-First Century.

Long before Taylor was the ambassador of the big apple and she welcomed us all to New York to reinvent ourselves, America’s premier city was a bit of a mad land (don’t believe me? Just check out these testimonials on Quora).

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Poverty, drugs and crime were kinda big and the streets were kind of gnarly. But New York was photographer Ken Schles’ muse. Born in Brooklyn in 1960, Ken moved into an apartment on Avenue B in the East Village in 1983 and began shooting his surroundings.

“His windows were boarded up because his landlord said that junkies could steal the gates with a crowbar. This worked to Schles’s advantage – he set up a darkroom,” says the Howard Greenberg Gallery, who are presenting his current exhibition Night Walk. “Life moved at a tumultuous pace. Downstairs, a woman with three kids was a heroin addict and dealers used her apartment as a shooting gallery. The city shut down the boiler in the building, which was spewing carbon monoxide. With scenes like this playing out daily right outside his doorstep, Schles found gripping subject matter in and around the neighbourhood.”


In 1988 Ken published what would become a cult classic book of photography called Invisible City. Now, twenty-five years later, that book is being reissued with a brand new companion book Night Walk, culled from work in his archive and described as “a narrative of lost youth: a delirious, peripatetic walk in the evening air of an irretrievable downtown New York as he saw and experienced it”.

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