When did the decrepit NYC of old ('70s) start becoming destitute and dangerous?
New York in the '70s was infamous for its grit and crime, but at what point did it start becoming so dirty (graffitied subway cars, bombed-out-looking housing projects, seedy Times Square)?
I'm assuming the downfall started in the late '60s?
It never was as bad as people say, I lived it, it was a kinder, more gentle time.
Late 60's. See Mad Men.
New liberal attitudes about crime (it's not their fault!) fucked up the entire city.
I fixed it.
What R2 said. It's been a continuing motif in the series for several seasons now.
[quote]It never was as bad as people say, I lived it, it was a kinder, more gentle time.
Yeah, the muggers didn't shoot you when they stole your purse. I live it too and it was a cesspool. Times Square turned into one big porno shop.
It is all Obama's fault.
I was a NYC kid in the 70s. It was kinda that bad, but you learned to navigate it fine. Though I do remember seeing bums shitting everywhere. Then in the early 80s everything started smelling like crack.
Makes me wonder who has nostalgia for dirty streets, and crime on every corner. Yeah it was exciting as a 11 year old entertainment junkie walking around Times Square as a kid seeing all the different Broadway and movie theaters.
Then you get a little older and realize that those theater are showing hardcore porn so you can't go in anyway. They are full of pervs and whores who have very little interest in the history of the run down theater that had a such a glamorous past. And half the Broadway theatres were empty because the economy kept audiences at home. And 8th Ave between 42nd and 55th Street, which now has million dollar apartments was a war zone. Police would actually tell to stay off the street, especially after dark.
Don't worry, we'll bring the 70's back!
Nobody ever went to Times Square to begin with.
I think it must have started before 1966 - even in 66 Times Square was dangerous.
"And 8th Ave between 42nd and 55th Street, which now has million dollar apartments was a war zone. Police would actually tell to stay off the street, especially after dark."
No it wasn't and no they didn't.
[quoteNo it wasn't and no they didn't.
Horsehit, it happened to me.
Were you a wide-eyed flyover who couldn't walk half a block without looking like a target, r13? Just because somebody once told vulnerable you to stay off the street doesn't mean police would tell everybody to stay off the street. At all.
More importantly when is it going to get destitute again so I can buy up a few nice apartments?
Earlier than you've been told (Civil Rights were not to blame). The South Bronx was devastated before 1965.
...we had the lovely Summer of Sam, and when the Bronx was burning we all headed over to make S'mores!
It was a magical time and place.
How much should we tuck in our shoes for muggers now, $50 or $100?
R10 and R17 for Wisdom.
The Summer of Son of Sam -- that whole year, really, and a year or two on either side -- I had more sex than I knew what to do with. Other than to see a play, then take a taxi right back downtown, I think I went to Times Square zero times.
No, I went once. I had sex in an apartment overlooking 9th Avenue in the spring of 1978. It was just not a place you went. For anything. Now, of course, how I wish I'd applied to live in one of those artist and actor buildings.
Shoulda, woulda, coulda, huh?
It started when large numbers of southern blacks and Puerto Ricans arrived in NYC starting in the late 1950s. While there were always black people migrating to NYC, it became a deluge in the 50 s and 60s.
People were prejudiced against the blacks and Puerto Ricans. They couldn't get good jobs, they were looked down on, etc. One reason why people were angry with them is that they would literally throw garbage out their windows onto the streets. They were rural people. In their rural areas, they threw garbage "out back" into woods or fields. They didn't have the money to buy garbage cans so they threw stuff on the street, expecting the sanitation workers to sweep it up, collect it and dispose of it.
This horrified people, especially sanitation workers. They stopped picking up garbage in those areas and the streets were littered. Because the blacks and Puerto Ricans were poor and couldn't get jobs, they went on welfare. This made white people hate them. It was like an endless cycle.
People -- white black bad brown -- got fed up. All of them felt they were despised and being taken advantage of.
Whites got a "fuck you" attitude. "I work hard for my money and they take out taxes and tens of thousands of people are on welfare doing nothing. I'm pissed. I will not exert myself to follow the rules, I will not pick up MY garbage, obey the laws, act civilized."
Minorities were angry about poor job opportunities and crappy neighborhoods and started robbing, especially robbing white people, who they saw as oppressors.
It was a mess. Throw the Vietnam war in there and it got worse. Lots of angry veterans. Hippie anti-war demonstrators. Then came drugs. Heroin in the ghetto being sold by the mafia. Later, crack.
It's a wonder there wasn't more unrest in NYC. But instead of continuous rioting, we got the slow degradation of people not giving a shit. People not doing their jobs properly. People stealing everywhere. Cops letting the ghetto become a drug den. Psychiatric hospitals closed down, leading to homelessness. Nobody doing anything about these problems for fear of being seen as racist or as Oreos, or as being The Man. Everybody behaved badly.
There was a time when large parts of Manhattan were middle class, lower middle class or just lower class - before the crime increase of the 60s.
Prostitution, crime, drugs always existed. It was never this wholesome and perfect place like everyone imagined.
However, it was the flight to the suburbs in the 50s and 60s as well as the increase of drugs (particularly highly addictive ones like heroin) that fueled the downturn.
I read some wild statistic that over half of all petty crime as well as prostitution was heroin-related back during that era.
And it wasn't just New York - it happened in almost every urban area - Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, DC, etc.
R20 gave a very good account.
It sounds better than it is now. NYC is everything that is wrong with America. GREED.
R20 - R21 here - some good points although a bit of a broad brush stroke about minorities. They didn't have garbage cans? What? That's idiotic.
However - you forgot to mention how fucking CORRUPT policemen were. They were on the take from drug dealers, mafia, pimps - you name it. They didn't prosecute or clean things up or it would stop their gravy train.
Look at the movie Serpico.
How did the South Bronx get so bombed out?
R21 here again - we also have to talk about the post WW2 boom and development of the suburbs. The middle class began moving further and further out - and the jobs followed out there as well. Remember Lucy and Ricky moving to CT on I Love Lucy? Tons of people were doing it.
Less and less employment and money in the cities. A lot of the minorities in the cities didn't have cars to get to jobs in the white suburbs, so they were left out.
You also had insurance red-lining where insurance companies decided that, typically due to a presence of minorities nearby, that they would not insure homes. That forced people to sell their homes and move. Racist policy - but it's true and it did a lot of damage.
Second, there WAS a lot of racism in the 50s - period. If a black family did move in on a block, their property values DID go down and forced others to sell as well. It was also a big scam by realtors and insurance companies who would call people up and say - did you know that there are now 4 colored families in your neighborhood? So and so just sold their house and I would advise you to do the same or you won't be able to get insurance soon.
The downfall of New York actually started after WW2. We didn't SEE it until the 1970s. All cities were in trouble in the 70s.
Yes r27 Robert Moses had a lot to do with the downturn as well. He's not known to most people now, but for decades he was arguably the most powerful man in the city and had disatrous projects that destroyed entire neighborhoods. It's too long a story to type here, but I recommend going to Wiki if you want to know the whole thing.
r20's explanation is not PC, but it's accurate. The thing is Puerto Ricans to this day are still looked down upon by other NYers, and for about a decade now I've heard endless bitching about the housing projects in Manhattan among NYers who resent the hell out of the fact that "those people" get to live in Manhattan for practically nothing, get free parking in their projects and many of them don't work while everybody else is paying out the ass to live in Manhattan. This has been a big subject of conversation among people for years now, i.e. "tear down those projects to build apartment buildings, and move the welfare leeches out of the city!"
I am not condoning this type of thinking at all, all I'm saying is that this is the state of mind of MANY NYers. I really don't know what the answer is.
R32. Nah, it just smelled like subway, kind of a heated underground and metal smell. But I may not have been as sensitive to smells as some.
Thank you, R34. I was looking for that very thread.
1970s New York wasn't a "SHITHOLE" at all.
I wish I could find a picture of 162 Spring Street, a bar in Soho in the late '70s. It wasn't gay, but you could meet guys there. I liked it more than discos, or the Ninth Circle.
New York isn't livable now in the same way the suburbs were not livable for an intelligent person before the Giuiani-Bloomberg-Sex-in-the-City revolution. NYC hasn't been cleaned up, it's been sanitized. Instead of Clorox, jails, homeless shelters, the incarceration of multitudes of homeless people and the phenomenon of ubiquitous multi-million-dollar condos, the wholesale closing of funky gay bars has made NY safe for tourists, including the "tourists" who take up residence here but are as benighted and unsophisticated as the average person from, say, Atlanta or Tampa--these have made NYC seem clean. It's clean but not gentle. It's sterile but spiritually dead.
Crime all gone? Not really. Now the crime is corporate so your narrow little world is not disrupted just now, it's merely the society that's incinerated.
[quote]Were you a wide-eyed flyover who couldn't walk half a block without looking like a target, [R13]? Just because somebody once told vulnerable you to stay off the street doesn't mean police would tell everybody to stay off the street. At all.
No Dear, I'm from NY and it was Policeman who told me to avoid 8th Ave as were we in the Police station recovering my Mother's purse that was stolen. It was found in a trash can and turned in with all the money and cards gone but her ID was still there. Apparently you had no problem living among the trash.
Yep, it was the 60s but I'd still rather have that NYC than the Giuliani/Bloomberg NYC. I'll take being mugged by a drug addict anytime over being mugged by Wall Street and the landlords.
Oh please, I'm 61 and I was a small scrawny kid and I ran all over NYC including going to the Bronx on the subways and busses since I was 12 in 1965 and it was fine. It was exciting then and everything including the theater and good restaurants was affordable to the middle and working class. My father worked at the NYT and I was always around Times Square and never felt afraid. The porn theaters and hookers didn't bother me. I never cared what someone else did. I minded my own business and got along fine with everyone. I detest this sanitized Disney version of Times Square.
West side story was written about the fifties - about the neighborhood bordering on today's Lincoln center!
The bad times go way back
I remember how some subway entrances weren't functional, but the MTA didn't bother to shutter them. Instead, I'd trudge down the steps to find the abandoned mezzanine was a makeshift shooting gallery. I nearly shat myself when a man grabbed my ankle as I scurried up the steps to get out of there. I was 14 and clueless about "the city," having come in from Gravesend, Brooklyn.
I went to high school in Coney Island in the late 80s, early 90s, and crack had really done a number on the city. Taking the then-B train (now the D train) to Bay 50th, it was not unusual to have guys tuck razor blades inside their mouths, between cheek and tooth, which they brandished and used to mug you. We had no money, though, so they usually robbed sneakers. Off your feet.
I saw a man smoking crack on the elevated subway station. There was a prostitute in a wheelchair haggling with a john outside the gate of my high school. We all heckled him when we overheard him say, "$3? That's too much." That line at the end of the Spike Lee movie, it's no fucking joke.
Everybody I know has a story about having been mugged or jumped on their way to school or work. And I'm a nerd, not a kid who hung out and got in trouble. The casual acceptance of crime was such that in 6th grade gym class, we learned self-defense.
Compounding the problems was the insularity of neighborhoods then. I'm not talking about the kids who traversed the city to tag every subway line; they got around, but most of us didn't, and when we found ourselves in a different neighborhood, we were chased out.
Last memory of NY in the old days: Drug addicts and/or homeless men were often sleeping on the subway car. Just full on sleeping, shitting, puking, smoking, living. And we were so inured to it that our only reaction was to think it a bother that all those seats were unavailable.
Doesn't it extend to the land [italic]underneath[/italic] Lincoln Center, R42?
That isn't at all true R8.
OP, oddly enough, in NYC housing projects were probably not ever bombed out. They may not have been great places to live, but they were occupied; it was the old tenements that were more likely to be burned out and abandoned.
I moved to NYC in 1974 and lived for 9 years on West 46th Street. NYC was fun, creative... it was teeming with young people. You could get a dumb job waiting tables and still afford rent and classes. And sex was every where.
But photos cannot convey the how run-down and absolutely squalid the city was. Every year over a 1000 people were murdered. Everyone had a story about getting mugged.
And yes it's true... 42nd street and 8th was a no-go zone. Cops did indeed advise tourists to stay away.
We can thank the Republicans for the homelessness in NYC which escalated greatly with Reagan, especially the mentally ill who were thrown out hospitals as the hospitals were shut don. Now there are over 50,000 (21,000 are children) homeless in NYC thanks to Bloomberg closing down all help with housing for the poor and ending Section 8 vouchers. Many of today's homeless in the shelters are people who have full time minimum wage jobs, often two parents who work full time. They lost their lease and cannot find apartments anyone even with 3 or 4 minimum wage jobs can afford, not to mention the first and last and security deposits. As I said, Bloomberg stopped all help to any low income for housing and only cared about multimillion apartments being built.
For more information check with The Coalition for the Homeless.
r48 you are 100% correct. And to add to that, Bloomberg ended Section 8 vouchers in the hopes that the people who needed them would leave NYC and go elsewhere.
I think I posted this on another thread, but I swear to god Manhattan will eventually be nothing but luxury condo buildings for the international 1% who only occupy them for one month out of the year. And that will be it.
You are totally right and on target R49. That is my fear too. I hope de Blasio can help but I'm afraid it's too late, even if he really has the will. He also has to deal with the upstate Republicans so I think NYC is lost to all but the top 1% and most of them from other countries at that. People from other countries are only hated when they are poor. If they're filthy rich their asses are kissed.
Sorry, forgot. R50 = R48.
I like deBlasio too, but I fear that the train has already left the station and NYC will continue to be a 1% city in spite of his efforts - it's just too late to reverse course, I think.
I do wonder if there will be a tipping point in the future, when people just say "we've had enough" and try to force change. We saw it a couple years ago with Occupy Wall Street and maybe there will be more of that in the near future. I just don't see how this city can sustain itself when even middle-class people won't be able to live within reasonable commuting distance. I mean, people are getting priced out of Bushwick now! Fucking BUSHWICK! It's just pure insanity.
Blacks and browns ruin everything....EVERYTHING!
I found the linked picture on the Flickr album posted above. The apartment building on the left was completely abandoned. It does look like there were quite a few boarded up windows in the project building on the right, but it probably was still mostly occupied.
Is it even possible for someone to live in Manhattan in a decent apartment if they only make an "average" salary?
I don't see how people live there unless they're a professional making six figures a year.
However bad NYC was during those years, Miami was probably worse. I think it had the highest homicide rate in the world in the 80's.
[quote]I swear to god Manhattan will eventually be nothing but luxury condo buildings for the international 1% who only occupy them for one month out of the year. And that will be it.
This is happening in London already. The expensive districts are ghost towns most of the year.
[quote]I wish I could find a picture of 162 Spring Street, a bar in Soho in the late '70s. It wasn't gay, but you could meet guys there. I liked it more than discos, or the Ninth Circle.
Watch: An Unmarried Woman (1978)...there's a whole scene shot in there.
R57 It's scary how cities like NYC, London, Paris, etc, are becoming so fucking expensive the average person can't live there anymore. It's because all these fucking foreigners (Arabs, Russians, Asians, etc) are buying up everything.
Hi, R58. Thanks. I am going to watch it tonight. I'm the guy you sent the soundtrack. I was hoping to find a picture online I could use as wallpaper.
Could R38 write a novel? Love the writing style.
NYC is a drag now. It's sort of appalling. Cool people used to live in NYC. Not now.
Though not a resident there, the problems began in the early 1960's, than accerated during the 1970's. But if you're nostalgic for those days, you'll be happy to know that the new incoming mayor plans to bring them back, starting with high crime.
The creative, artsy types who used to make NYC exciting have departed west to LA (a comparatively affordable big city alternative). NY's migration of talent has been LA's gain.
[quote] They didn't have garbage cans? What? That's idiotic.
No it's not. They did not have garbage cans in front of the older buildings in the ghetto. People literally threw their garbage out the window onto the street.
Don't worry, OP, the new mayor will bring back out-of-control crime, welfare parasites, racial tension, high taxes, and financial insolvensy. It'll be Detroit on the Atlantic.
Proud Closeted Freeper
I lived for 20 years in a middle class housing project. It had been built in 1973. In 2003, it was converted into luxury condos. My former apartment sold in September of this year for $1.08M.
We had a real community in that project. The former residents we used to go to coffee shops with (pre-Starbucks) are scattered up and down the East Coast now, forced to move to more affordable places where they don't have any roots, friends or family.
I miss them and I miss my old life.
We're working on bringing back the glory days OP! Just give it a year!
Based on these posts, it seems freepers like R70, besides hating blacks, yearn for more Applebeification of creative centers. Big surprise.
This thread is a great read.
I lived in NY from '52 to '61 - split for California early in '61. I got out before things went down the tube.
Going to college in New York was an incredible experience. Still is, from what I hear.
TRUTH BE TOLD! It started with the mob's very wide expansion into the heroin trade. We were in the Vietnam War and most of it was transported back via the military. It was even stuffed in the corpses of dead soldiers and coffins. When drugs took over the city it was the beginning of the end, with the high crime rate it created.
One more thing-the mob made VERY sure that heroin was well distributed and sold in poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods. The residents were easily hooked. The mob did not want it in their neighborhoods but that didn't last too long as a LOT of whites became addicted as well. The NEED for more of the drug created more robberies and violence everywhere. If anyone was to blame for the deep shit NYC got itself into IT WAS THE MOB! They were a cancer that spread everywhere and they still do.
No one forced black and brown people into drugs "Fed Up", no one stuck needles into their arms. Where is the responsibility of the black and brown communities for their own fuck ups?
Thank you for posting that R20. Really informative.
Coco was picked up at the Howard Johnson's and forced into porn in 1980.
For me, and many friends at the time, NYC started changing in 1986. I left for LA and have been west coast ever since.
[quote]Don't worry, OP, the new mayor will bring back out-of-control crime, welfare parasites, racial tension, high taxes, and financial insolvensy. It'll be Detroit on the Atlantic
And so it begins....
To agree somewhat with R66, parts of Downtown Los Angeles (near skid row, the Broadway theatre district) are closer to feeling anything like the old '70s New York, than anything still left in Manhattan itself. And that is sad to say..
It was still kind of rough when the Facts of Life girls visited.
New York? You no longer in danger, girl!
r65= Ray Kelly
[quote]Cool people used to live in NYC. Not now.
Where do the cool people live now?
There are very few genuine cool people. There are those pretending to be cool living in various parts of Brooklyn in places the poor where thrown out of to make room for them and their big bucks, more often their parents big bucks. If they were really cool they would care more about the poor people thrown out of their homes and the hungry and fight for them. That is what truly cool people that are cool inside and out do. The others aren't cool, they are cold.
[quote[I swear to god Manhattan will eventually be nothing but luxury condo buildings for the international 1% who only occupy them for one month out of the year. And that will be it.
[quote]This is happening in London already. The expensive districts are ghost towns most of the year.
Happening in LA too. Lots of formerly affordable neighborhoods becoming too expensive. Small neighborhoods like Silver Lake/Los Feliz and adjacent Hollywood getting crowded with traffic due to the building of more multi unit buildings and massive apt/condos. Horrible city planning soon getting through Hollywood to anywhere East will take hours.
Well, I have to say, I've lived in NYC for 50 years, and though I appreciate its newfound cleanliness and the retrieval of some beautiful architecture, it is now a spiritually moribund town. It used to a be gritty but glamorous city, a naked city with 8 million stories, a vast, storied and mysterious city. Now there's one story, and it's the dollar sign. So sad...
It was wonderful, OP, and the sky was so blue those days.
Times Square was one big peep show. The Continental baths featured Bette Midler. The Adonis held live naked boys shows and private meetings in their "Fantasy Booths"s.
The abandoned wharfs on the west side were congretating places for hundreds of men with their pants down in broad daylight. Part of the raised West Side Highway collapsed onto a school bus killing 8 innocent children.
Not a single fountain in the city worked. Everything was covered in graffitti. The garbage on the sidewalks was overpowering due to the constant sanitation strikes. And the rats? Ahhh, the rats!
R27 and some others were partly right. Anyone who thinks the problem started in the 1960s or even 1950s is an idiot. The plain truth is that New York has been filled with horrible slums from about 1820 on. The housing projects were ugly, but they were loads better than the decrepit housing that existed before them.
You really think garbage on the streets appeared when the Puerto Ricans arrived and then the 1930s when there were a million homeless in the city, things were peachy?
Remember, until World War II America had zero, and I mean ZERO concern for the poor, no more than you find in Mexico or Brazil today.
Wasn't it the in flood of Eastern European immigrants during the 19th & early 20th century that started the gritty urbaness?
[quote]They didn't have the money to buy garbage cans so they threw stuff on the street
The Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are two of the few remaining good things about New York.
I used to visit NYC as a kid in the 70s from London. It was strange. You'd be on the Upper East Side and you'd see very fancy apt buildings with the doormen and the canopies and the street in front would be full of pot holes, abandoned exhaust pipes, bashed up taxis pulling up.
Say what you want about NYC in the 70s, but if it was good enough for Jackie Onassis it was good enough for everyone.
There was always urban grit in New York. White flight starting in the 50's (promoted by banking, real estate, motor companies, oil and gas, etc.) is what caused the multiple urban crises in the rust belt. Big money made more money by expanding the suburbs and containing poverty in places that could be abandoned, the result to be blamed on the least powerful people in society.
Blaming the poor, or the policies that tried to make them less poor, is vicious and dishonest.
[quote]Times Square was one big peep show. The Continental baths featured Bette Midler. The Adonis held live naked boys shows and private meetings in their "Fantasy Booths"s... The abandoned wharfs on the west side were congretating places for hundreds of men with their pants down in broad daylight. Part of the raised
And they all died of AIDS. The End
[quote] Small neighborhoods like Silver Lake/Los Feliz and adjacent Hollywood getting crowded with traffic due to the building of more multi unit buildings and massive apt/condos
Yeah, I saw that. I was watching a tribute to Halloween 1978 on YouTube where they showed filming locations. The entire side of the street where the Myers house was located is a large townhouse or apartment complex.
R96, R87 is Mark Hellinger, not Joe Friday.
You know how police would dump wild young men at the local military recruiting station to get them out of town? Well, white sheriffs in the south gave African Americans one-way bus tickets to NYC.
1987 NYC was still a shithole but these are fab pix.
No worries though, with deBlasio in there, these times are coming back.
I can't believe there are so many idiots here who say the NYC of the 70s and 80s was somehow superior. The nostalgia for junkies on every corner and and crime on every street and porn everywhere is the height of dumbassery.
Read the story in R61s post. The black family in Harlem (6kids, I think) get a gift of a nice h ouse in Queens after the story was run (people donated to buy them a house).
Three months after they moved into it, they dropped a cigarette on the couch, passed out (drunk??), and the house burned down.
You can't GIVE people like this anything nice, people have to earn it and value it.
Can't stand people who think they are better have no flaws. Sec 8 is not a good thing. However the habitat homes are earned through sweat equity. They aren't just given a free home. I support that. Ths government must understand there those that like their situation & you can't make people want to do better. They have to hage inner motivation.
[quote]The nostalgia for junkies on every corner and and crime on every street and porn everywhere is the height of dumbassery.
The NYC of the 70s was also very hip and very creative. It took the baton from 60s London as the most fashionable city in the world. You just need to watch one of the many terrific NYC movies of the era to see that. It was also very unspoilt. It had enormous character. But yes it was dangerous...which sort of added to the excitement, unless of course you were a victim of it.
Bumping to reminisce about one of my favorite Christmases, when I lived in "the decrepit NYC of old" (1977) (which, let's face it, did not become "destitute and dangerous").
I lived on 10th between University and Broadway with my roommate Karen. It was the first Christmas after my mother died, and without her, there was no joy in celebrating with the rest of my family. So Karen and I celebrated with Lucy and Dino down the hall.
We weren't two couples. Dino and I were, however, fuck buddies. We all exchanged little gifts, food and wine, mostly. My favorite gifts were the ones Dino and I gave each other (*), which [italic]were[/italic] each other--a gift we kept on giving each other all winter, actually (and if you recall, the winter of '78 was one of the coldest on record).
Now that was a very merry, very happy, Christmas holiday, in a place and a time that was anything but decrepit. I'm very glad to be able to remember it today.
(*) For those who just can't live without such details, Dino was one of the few guys I'd met in the two years I'd been out whose cock was bigger than my own, and he was uncut.
I grew up in NYC in the 60s,70s & 80s. The (South) Bronx didn't start burning down til the late 60s, but reaaally took off in the early 70s & continued for the whole decade. A big part of it was what was called "Jewish Lightning"...owners of slummy bldgs burning the places down for the insurance money.
NYC, or Manhattan proper, which I think is the part of the City that most of you think of when you say "New York", started descending into a big hairy mess in the early 50s, but didn[t go full on bat-shit crazy until the mid 60s. Alot of it was due to a tremendous influx of poor Puerto Ricans (who didn't speak English) & rural,southern blacks (who had no big-city job skills). The City built "the projects", which were really nothing more than human file cabinets for the poor. Combine these two events with the massive distribution of marijuana, heroin & cocaine, NYC's desperate financial situation in the 70s (NYC nearly went bankrupt) & very generous welfare benefits (attracting more poor people from elsewhere)...and you have a recipe for widespread urban decay, extreme levels of violent crime, failure of city services, etc. I'll write another post on the upside of NYC of that era, since there were some really positive things about it that are gone now.
NYC is just like San Francisco - sheeple like it because they think they are supposed to. When you peel back a layer it is a shit pit.
[quote] Times Square turned into one big porno shop.
You say that like it's a bad thing.
Some of the upside of NYC in the 60s & 70s, was that NYC, even Manhattan, was a city of distinct neighborhoods, with varying ethnicities,income levels, industries/businesses, bars, restaurants, stores, etc, unique to that 'hood. Now, Manhattan's all pretty much homogenous & rich,with very few exceptions. You had the Germans & Hungarians in Yorktown (upper 70s & 80s on the East Side), Little Italy was actually an Italian area, not Chinese as it is now. Middle & lower income people actually lived in Manhattan on what they earned. That is impossible today. The only poor people in Manhattan now, are living in housing projects & on welfare.
As for the gay scene, it was a zillion times more lively, creative, organic & REAL than today. I visit NYC regularly to see family & for work: there are almost NO gay bars or nightclubs in Manhattan now. We had, in the 70s alone, the Ice Palace,The Saint, Stix, Uncle Charlies, Crisco Disco. - dozens of places! Mega clubs, hosting 1000s on a weekend night..you could go out any night of the week & the gay spots were full of people. The movie "Cruising" showed the Meatpacking District as it actually was back then - dirty, desolate & scary. But it was a REAL NYC area.
Times Sq was a nasty place since the 50s: strip joints, peep shows, dirty dive bars, criminals,hookers & drug addicts...yes, pretty unsafe, esp at night. But again, it was REAL New York. Today, it's an outdoor mall for tourists.
Some areas that are today, the highest of high dollar areas, were total no go zones as recently as 20 years ago. The Bowery area was NYC's Skid Row, SoHo, NoHo & all those other Ho's, were dirty, poor, crime ridden & had no services. Same for the Meatpacking District in Manhattan, Long Island City in Queens & most of today's hip & expensive areas of Brooklyn.
[quote]The movie "Cruising" showed the Meatpacking District as it actually was back then - dirty, desolate & scary. But it was a REAL NYC area.
Where meat was being packed, day and night.
Reagan and his crowd brought the real America, to it's knees.
Did Reagan force you to insert the unnecessary comma and apostrophe, R113?
R113, Reagan wasn't President in the 60s & 70s & NYC was a bastion of extremely liberal politics & politicians until Rudy Giuliani became Mayor.
[quote]I lived for 20 years in a middle class housing project. It had been built in 1973. In 2003, it was converted into luxury condos. My former apartment sold in September of this year for $1.08M.
What the hell are you talking about? As a native New Yorker, I can attest that not one housing project in this city, let alone state, has been sold off to create "luxury condos"! Ebtire building have not been converted, perhaps one complex was knockedd down? But I'd be hard pressed to remember where it was.
NYC doesn't seem to have any Cabrini Green level housing projects, but with that clueless asshole Shea in charge, they are sure getting there! Hope DeBlasio fires that jerk.
Sure Bloombucks was trying to sell the 'extra space' at certain housing projects, which are currently being used for basketball courts and parking lots by housing residents, to use that space for luxury housing.
How that idiot Bloomberg even came up with this absurd idea is beyond me, it only proved how out of touch this man is. Rich people living next door to public housing projects?! Rich people totally blot out that there are poor and working class people, they wouldn't want to live near them.
Perhaps you had lived in Mitchell-Lama housing? Mitchell-Lama is not an actual housing project. Remember what happened at Stuyvesant Town? It was Mitchell-Lama housing, then was sold, then became market rate housing. Longtime residents are still fighting the absurd rent hikes there. Can you imagine paying only $600+, then have your rent suddenly go past $3000 a month?
I'm so glad I never acepted an apartment in Stuyvesant Town. My co-op maintenance is much lower than the current outrageous rents at Stuyvesant Town.
I still can't comprehend a city where so many low wage workers, especially the ones who make this city run (cabbies, maids, cleaners, waitresses etc), who need a close place to live, continue to be priced out.
Having grown up in Bushwick, Greenpoint and Long Island City, it's amazing, and sad, that even these once affordable areas are being bought out by real estate speculators and trust fund hipsters. It's downright disgusting.
[quote]Longtime residents are still fighting the absurd rent hikes there.
I thought that was settled and that the tenants got refunds.
R116...NYC does indeed have "Cabrini Green" level housing projects. Go visit the Jefferson housing projects on 112-115th Sts/1st-3rd Aves in Manhattan, as examples...Absolutely horrific.
And these aren't the only ones.
The old styled NYC projects like these are a failed experiment from the 1950s. They all need to be torn down & replaced with smaller, shorter, more manageable bldgs.
In a way, NYC works because of the notorious housing projects, as well as all the other rent stabilized laws, which allow local businesses who need low wage employees to always have people to hire. Without a population of people who aren't crushed by huge housing costs, how could small businesses thrive? As much as rent regulation laws are bashed, it is actually a good thing to be able to live and work in the same neighborhood!
In a larger picture, I agree that warehousing the poor, especially the fatherless, or single-parent family poor is a rotten idea for obvious reasons. I don't wonder that there isn't incredible jealousy between those living in Public Housing ghettos- and those who would love to live in a solid, reasonably attended, multi-bedroom apartment in Chelsea, Lincoln Square, or the Upper West Side for a decent price.
A restoration of the street grid, and the total elimination of the Robert Moses-style superblocks is one key to a return to mixed-income housing for all classes of working people. Creating incentives for people who are not working, not usually working, and who are chronically homeless to go start fresh somewhere less expensive, where housing challenges are fewer isn't a bad idea. It is one way to help the city stabilize. I think the concept of public housing where only the very poor live is on the way out.
I'm a NYer for 33 years, since 1980.
Robert Moses' Cross Bronx Expressway began to destroy the lower Bronx in the late 1950s and his gigantic Urban Renewal projects, from the mid-50s until he lost power in 1965, wiped out entire neighborhoods on the lower east side and upper Manhattan, co-opting the "tower in the park" hi-rise (surrounded by parking lots) concept that became the template for all large scale projects into the late 1970s. These destroy the social neighborhood fabric and create empty, deserted streets.
R120, which are some of the blocks in the LES and Upper Manhattan to which you referring? What about the "tower in the park" places?
I agree, R122. This is a great thread.
[quote]The old styled NYC projects like these are a failed experiment from the 1950s. They all need to be torn down & replaced with smaller, shorter, more manageable bldgs.
Where do you propose the residents live while their apartments are torn down to put up new buildings? Nothing like 'armchair commentary' from people who seem to know so little about housing projects. This, of course, will never happen.
I'm white, I actually grew up in public housing, in LIC, on the border of Astoria. While this project, Ravenswood, isn't as nice as it used to be, it's still not Cabrini Green level. I lived there in the early 1960s through the 1970s, my parents and I moved when I was a teen in the mid 1970s.
When I grew up there, most residents worked, there weren't many people on welfare or single parent households at that time.
Ravenswood was basically an ethically diverse, working and middle class project. There were black Americans, whites (Irish, Italian and American Jews) and Puerto Rican residents, that was the mix. There were very few Chinese, when they arrived, they were mostly poor and elderly.
Most residents were blue collar and union workers, though there was a smattering of teachers and nurses. The projects, for most of the residents during that time frame, were considered a stopover residence. Residents stayed until they saved enough to buy a local co-op or their own home. Rent in NYCHA has always been and still is based on the residents income.
The buildings at Ravenswood are currently well maintained and most, not all, residents maintain their apartments. Besides the back-logged repairs not being done, which has been exposed in a series by the New York Daily News, there aren't many problems there.
The backlog of repairs from most of the NYC projects has been due to the inept NYCHA president, the former Wall Street exec who was hired by Bloombucks. NY1 has also been covering the repair probelm. The worst problem at Ravenswood seems to be noise, which hasn't changed much since I was there. It seems there will always be a certain type of resident who enjoys blasting music. I know about what's going on there, because my mom keeps in touch with her old friends who remained there.
Ravenswood borders two sets of large co-op complexes, many people mistake these co-ops as another housing project. These co-ops were built a few years after Ravenswood. Near Ravenswood there are also pre-war apartment buildings, as well as private houses and over the past few years, there have been many new expensive rental buildings going up along 21st Street and on Vernon Boulevard.
I feel that Ravenswood will continue to keep the neighborhood diverse, unlike the other end of LIC. which now features laughably high rents and condos/co-ops costing close to a million.
The Noguchi museum is nearby, as well as some newly built rentals, but that part of LIC remains somewhat industrial, as does Queens Plaza.
Transportation isn't very close to that part of LIC, the nearest subway is about 15-16 blocks from Noguchi.A friend's family, who own many houses near the Noguchi museum, have been offered millions for their land, they are holding off.
Despite the presence of three sets of housing prjects: Queensbridge, Ravenswood and Astoria, the the area is still very much 'in demand'. I guess LIC's and Astoria's close proximity to the city is the main reason. Thankfully, there is no hipster scene, I hope it stays that way. The presence of the three sets of projects will prevent LIC/Astoria from becoming another Williamsburg.
In all the years my parents lived in Ravenswood, they were never robbed, there were no bands of drug dealers, no random shootings or murders.
There were a handful of domestic violence related murders. I recall, one murder involved a woman who had a restraining order against her ex-husband, somehow he got into her apartment, he killed her. This type of murder could have happened anywhere.
My parents, as well as most of the people my parents were friendly with at Ravenswood, ended up moving literally two-three blocks away into the two sets of co-ops.
I left NY for a few years, when I returned, I also bought a co-op near the projects. I'm close to the city, have an amazing Manhattan skyline view, I have no regrets. I've always felt safe in my neighborhood, I continue to feel this way.
The only problem I'm worried about are the interlopers, IE: the trust fund hipsters. I see a few, they are so annoying, on the local shopping drag, they stand in the middle of the sidewalks, trying to draw attention to themselves. Talking loud and posing. Typical.
These people might cause whatever mom & pop stores are left to close, not to mention cause the existing stores to raise prices, because that's all these types seem to do, they cause prices to go up in whatever neighborhood they start to permeate!
I did notice an overpriced 'gourmet' grill cheese shop had opened, you know how much hard working people want to pay $10 for a cheese sandwich!
[quote]The old styled NYC projects like these are a failed experiment from the 1950s. They all need to be torn down & replaced with smaller, shorter, more manageable bldgs.
Some are being redeveloped. Chicago has "de-ghettofied" some projects by constructing for mixed-income levels. Taking advantage of higher property values and peoples desire to live in cities, condos are being included.
Toronto is following Chicago's example. Some of the new buildings are actually taller than the old ones and indistinguishable from the scads of other expensive condos popping up all over. Density is increased to accommodate the existing residents as well as new buyers. Re-connection to the street grid to counteract the "compound" effect is also important.
Where do you propose the residents live while their apartments are torn down to put up new buildings? Nothing like 'armchair commentary' from people who seem to know so little about housing projects. This, of course, will never happen.
It's not "armchair commentary". I actually used to live in East Harlem, in one of the Jefferson Housing projects when I was a kid. It was awful in the 70s, it's far worse now.
When NYC decided to put up those projects starting in the early 50s, they tore down tons of row houses & tenement bldgs in EH. Those who lived there simply needed to find somewhere else to live. They were given some kind of assistance, can't vouch for exactly what that was. A
The people who live in those human file cabinets called Jefferson Housing, can move as well, given some help. The rebirth of Harlem will take place much more quickly & securely if mixed density & mixed income housing take their place.
It WILL happen...that land has become too valuable to leave as a crime ridden slum.
[quote]Where do you propose the residents live while their apartments are torn down to put up new buildings?
They were temporarily placed in other projects during construction. And the overall renewal project is being done in stages so that some new buildings are ready for occupancy before others are demolished.
[quote]Nothing like 'armchair commentary' from people who seem to know so little about housing projects. This, of course, will never happen.
It has happened and is happening, quite successfully. Just not in NYC maybe, But there is a world out there.
if you read any Damon Runyon stories or watch old Shirley Temple movies, you see that there have been poor and seed neighborhoods in Manhattan as far back as the 20's and 30's. Go watch "Pocketful of Miracles", "Guys and Dolls" and the Shirley Temple movies with Italians organ grinders and their monkeys in East Harlem.
The ghettos were Jewish, Italian and Irish. Go watch "Gangs of New York".
New York did not become a slum when the African Americans and Puerto Ricans arrive. the other immigrants lived in slums too. Go watch "The Godfather" of "Funny Girl".
[quote]One reason why people were angry with them is that they would literally throw garbage out their windows onto the streets. They were rural people. In their rural areas, they threw garbage "out back" into woods or fields. They didn't have the money to buy garbage cans so they threw stuff on the street, expecting the sanitation workers to sweep it up, collect it and dispose of it.
I know people are saying this is accurate, but I'm having a really tough time believing it. My family has always lived in rural areas, and garbage was never just "thrown out back." There were compost heaps, garbage heaps maybe, and plenty of old buckets and barrels used as trash cans.
The real head-scratcher is the idea that sanitation workers ever picked up and collected garbage just strewn all over a rural area. That did not happen.
Even if you're talking about the habit of farming families to throw food out the door for animals to eat, that doesn't make sense -- cities were prohibiting that kind of thing in the late 1800s and early 1900s, far earlier than the post-WWII years you're talking about.
Not sure if "Raymond" is still around DL these days, but if you are -- I really like your posts in this thread. Great stuff.
[quote]Happening in LA too.
Ugly New York hegemony.
If NYC was allowed to be for NYCers again, they would leave LA to be LA.
As for Jewish Lightning, here in LA, it is "Soviet Armenian Lightning."
R132: Thank you.
More on NYC's near demise in the 60s & 70s:
The very liberal policies of Mayors Lindsay & Beame, along with Gov Carey, didn't help matters much. The City was already in poor financial shape, from years of high taxes which created an unfriendly business climate, corruption, excessively generous union contracts & ever higher social expenditures, when the stagflation, oil embargo & general national economic downturn hit.
Crime was out of control. Ppl were being shot & robbed on the subways on a frequent basis. There was the blackout of 1977 & the Son of Sam killings. Poverty was rife: The South Bronx was a literal ghost town, as most of it was burned or abandoned. It has only just begun to recover, 40 yrs later.
In 1975, Pres Ford told NYC to "drop dead" (he really didn't say that), but he refused, basically through Wm Simon, Treasury Sctry, to bail NYC out of its financial troubles.
Felix Rohatyn, who was the head of the MTA at the time (I think) & was an investment banker, helped gather together a broad coalition of business, civic, academic & cultural leaders, to help pull NYC back from the brink of debt default & bankruptcy. And trust me, NYC was thisclose to default at the time.
I agree with you R48. But the story is even more headless and cynical as I remember it. Before my time but this is what I learned when I arrived in the city and asked what had brought about the squalor and crime.
That the mentally ill should not be kept in hospitals was a progressive liberal idea from the 1970s. It proposed that the bulk of them could be put into halfway houses where social workers would visit them. That way they would be given an apartment and found a job and helped into gradually becoming self sufficient members of society. Rather than keeping them dependent for the rest of their lives at great expense to the state.
It was a good thoughtful humane idea.
Then the republican Reagan-Koch regime came in. They said great.They got rid of the funding for the hospitals and let their patients out.
Then refused to fund the essential other half of the program: the halfway houses.
Result: the rise in the homeless, mentally impaired people on the street, drugs, you name it... Everything the OP posted about.
I would also attribute much of NY's decline in the 70s and 80s to Robert Moses. RM's urban renewal (razing low income neighborhoods to the ground, mass displacement of people from their homes/communities, destroying the grid and building depressing superblocks, creating what we know as the projects/ghettos, Lincon Center, etc). Neighborhood destruction with RM's highways (cross-bronx expwy, gowanus expwy, BQE, the verrazano, triborough, etc). The corrupt, powerful RM controlled Triborough authority (leading to the MTA neglect). RM's racism and neglect toward blacks and latino communities. Next time you drive on the cross-bronx or i278, remember, thriving communities and people occupied that space before they were forced out and bulldozed for cars. Robert Caro's The Power Broker and Ric Burns' New York: A Documentary Film are highly recommended for great, albeit disheartening information.
If you watch any of the "Dirty Harry" or similar films of urban America of supposed 1970's NYC was hardly alone in its decline. White flight was still in high gear and many US cities were left pretty much to rot and ruin.
New York had the added disadvantage of inept and or outright corrupt local and state governments. When the Ponzi scheme that was NYC's finances blew up and the banks said "no" to additional funds everything hit the fan.
With no money for services things were cut to the bone. Transit, roads, education and so forth all suffered. Labor unrest didn't help as one by one many of NYC's core industries either packed up and moved or shut down. The loss of manufacturing and shipping in particular harmed the tax base.
Interesting looking back two years or so later about LIC. Citibank is getting set to sell a nice sized parcel of land (the area never really took off as office space), and Bill de Blazio and the City Council are already in early with pressing hard to see the property ends up providing in whole or part "affordable housing".
NYC in the 70s was a crime filled, filthy, dangerous place. No one disputes that. I would come home and take a shower after being on the street. The 80s were really not much better but a little nicer. Real improvement started in the 90 and continues to this day.
[quote] Drug addicts and/or homeless men were often sleeping on the subway car. Just full on sleeping, shitting, puking, smoking, living. And we were so inured to it that our only reaction was to think it a bother that all those seats were unavailable.
I just experienced a shitting and smoking homeless on the Chicago Blue train Line. And it was 2pm!!!!!
On the View today, Colin Quinn asked Rosie Perez if shed been back to Bushwick, the former slum where she grew up in Brooklyn. He said now you get on the L train, there at 2:AM and it's like the ski lift at Aspen.
Wasn't the building of the Cross-Bronx Expressway the key factor? The decisions in the 40s, 50s and 60s to build major high-speed highways right through the hearts of already established cities basically ruined many cities all over the US. Nobody wants to live next to them, so they instantly turned what were thriving (often ethnic) neighborhood into ghettos.