Bruce Springsteen on Tenth Avenue - August, 1979 - Photo Location
The photo by of Bruce by Joel Bernstein.
The photo of Bruce was taken in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York on the southeast corner of Tenth Avenue and 53rd Street about a half block down and across the street from The Power Station, a recording studio where Bruce was working on the album THE RIVER.
Bruce is standing in front of the playground of P.S. (Public School) 111. You can get right to the spot on Google Earth Street Views by searching for "10th Avenue and 53rd Street, NY."
Here's a shot with Bruce overlayed over the present day scene...
(photo of Bruce by Joel Bernstein)
Although it's warm in the photo, this could be the Tenth Avenue referenced in the song "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" on Born to Runrecorded 4 years earlier about 9 blocks away at The Record Plant, another recording studio.
Although Bruce, in a Wikipedia article about the song, writes that even he doesn't know what a "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" is, the song's lyrics talk about him being "stranded in the jungle" (an old nickname for New York City) with his "back against the wall" and "searching for his groove" when "she hit me with a Tenth Avenue freeze-out."
Then again, there's a 10th Avenue near Asbury Park in New Jersey, so that also could be the phrase's inspiration.
Here's a shot of The Power Station, the recording studio where Bruce was recording down the street. It located at 441 West 53rd Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues and is a converted Con Ed station, hence its hame. Bruce and the band would later record part of the album BORN IN THE USA here in 1984.
Numerous rock illuminaries have recorded here including: The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Paul McCartney, John Mayer, Nora Jones, and Madonna who recorded Like a Virgin here.
The Power Station was renamed Avater Studios in 1996. Here's a view looking in the front door window.
Here's an overhead shot showing where Bruce was photographed in location to The Power Station.
How I found the location...
While working on my first PopSpots entry about the location of Joel Bernstein's photograph of Neil Young for the cover of After the Gold Rush, I saw this photo of Bruce on Joel's website. A caption next to it read: "August, 1979. In front of a schoolyard in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York City." (You can find it, and many other photos at Joel's webite: http://www.joelbernstein.com/BS-04.html)
I had seen the photograph and had always thought it was taken in that part of Hells Kitchen, but I had never specificaly tried to find the EXACT SPOT.
Hell's Kitchen is a somewhat run-down, but gentrifying neighborhood west of Times Square. In the late 1800's the tenements, docks and slaughterhouses were teeming with gangs and criminals who frequented the saloons along the river. In 1881, a New York Times writer referred to the one of the blocks there as "Hell's Kitchen" and the nickname stuck.
So, before I went to find he location, I used Bing Bird's Eye View to find exactly where the schoolyard was. Here's a map of the area:
(map: Bing Maps)
Finding the schoolyard was pretty easy. Using Bing Maps's Bird's Eye View I just "flew" up 9th and 10th Avenue untill I saw a huge playgound. Then, when I found it, I "spun" the view around (Bing Maps has aerial photos from taken from 4 directions) until I got a "match" with the windows on the school and the windows in the background of Bruce's photo.
Here's what it looked like:
(overhead view: Bing Bird's Eye View; photo of Bruce by Joel Bernstein)
So on a late June night, I walked over to the area after work from my office near Times Square and took some pictures at the corner while a kickball game was going on in the playground.
Here's a shot of Tenth Avenue looking south from where the picture as taken, just to give you a flavor of the neighborhood. The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with John Stewart are both produced in studios a few blocks away.
Here's a "Bruce Eye View" taken from where Bruce was leaning against the fence.
Perhaps we could call it a "Tenth Avenue Freeze Frame."
...and to close, one last shot of The Boss "Out in the Street" and maybe with a "Hungry Heart." (two songs he might have been conjuring up right then and there for THE RIVER.)