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c. 1981-1984

A walk on the not-so-wild side of Lou Reed

The Velvet Underground icon strikes a pose or two

camera
A walk on the mild side this time.
Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images

Unlike almost every other member of Andy Warhol’s scene, Lou Reed went by his real name—although his mother called him Lewis. But even with 20 solo albums to his name before his death in 2013 at 71, Reed remained best known as the singer and guitarist of The Velvet Underground.

Today, the Velvet Underground is seen as one of the most significant bands in rock history. Yet, hard as it is to imagine today, the band was not commercially successful while it was together. Indeed, when Reed quit in 1970, he got a job as a typist with his father’s accounting firm.

Born in Brooklyn and growing up on Long Island, Lou Reed—and the Velvet Underground—were quintessentially of New York. This year marks the 30th anniversary of his solo album New York and the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts just opened their Lou Reed Archive. In these pictures, taken in the early 1980s, Reed takes us on a tour of his city.

1982
For a 1982 portrait session, Reed buys flowers and oranges at a New York City market.
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1981
Reed on the street in New York City, 1981.
Michel Jolyot / Andia / Getty Images
1982
Reed with flowers on New Year’s Day, 1982.
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1982
Check out the 1980s era subway entrance.
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1982
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1982
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1984
Another portrait in the city, 1984.
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1984
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1984
Portrait at a newsstand, 1984.
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1984
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1982
Coffee at Cafe Figaro in the West Village in 1982.
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1984
Window shopping on the Upper West Side in 1984.
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1982
Back at Cafe Figaro in Greenwich Village.
Waring Abbott/Getty Images
1984
Posing again at an Upper West Side phone booth in 1984.
Waring Abbott/Getty Images

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