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.