NY Now & Then

Soothing Vintage Balm if You’ve Been Bitten by the New York Nostalgia Bug

When I first started writing The Rise, Fall, and Return of Sarah Mandelbaum, I knew it had to take place in the ’90s since my publishing career took off, then, and Sarah and I have so much in common. It was also a fabulous decade for fashion, beauty, and publishing (See my 90s Nostalgia Blog Post).

And as I started writing about Sarah’s adventures in ’90s New York, I became increasingly nostalgic for the places I loved that no longer exist here. There were amazing boutiques, live music venues, inexpensive yet wonderful restaurants, guitar shops, and tons of record stores–which have always been my favorite places to visit for entire afternoons.

And then I got to thinking about other fantastic NYC places I visited in the ’70s and ’80s—mostly with my camp friends who lived here. Starting when I was 11, my parents would drop me off at their apartments for the weekend, and the adventures would begin. We’d stroll the city for miles and miles, take the “forbidden” subway, and go to the movies all by ourselves. Their lives seemed impossibly glamorous compared to mine in the suburbs.

Although these places aren’t here anymore, they still live in my heart, and I’d love to share them with you. So, I’ve created a new series at https://www.tiktok.com/@carakagan called New York Now & Then, where I do just that.

If you have your own New York Now and Then story, I’d love to hear it. Please tell me about it on my contact form, and then I’ll feature it in one of my segments.


Fiorucci NY
Fiorucci was one of my favorite stores ever. The staff all wore roller skates and glided effortlessly across the floors. I couldn’t afford any of the beyond-glamorous clothes there, but I’d save my baby-sitting money to buy its heart-shaped sunglasses and cherub t-shirt.
The Unique Boutique on Broadway, SoHo, NYC
I could never get over how fabulous Unique Boutique was. It was bursting with trendy tie-dyed, sequined, and rhinestone clothing. It also had splatter paint stations where you, or a super edgy store clerk, could splatter paint pants and t-shirts, which thrilled me to no end.
CBGB Nightclub on NYC's lower east side
Sadly, I was too young to go to CBGB during its heyday in the early ’80s, but I wish I weren’t. Bands like Blondie, The Talking Heads, and the Police pretty much all got their start there.
The Cat Club NYC
The Cat Club was one of my all-time favorite dance clubs because it played rock and felt cool and underground to me since most other clubs back then played ’80s dance music.
Tower Records East Village, NYC
Tower Records in the East Village was the most fantastic place. It was enormous and carried every kind of music imaginable, including rare recordings. It also had sound booths with turntables so you could listen to records all day without ever having to buy them.