The New York You Don't Remember

Mod note: Blast from the Past - "Best of Eddie." This one is originally from January 2012.

Wow, these photos really brought back some memories for me. Most of you are too young to remember New York City as it was in the 1980's, so some of these shots might come as a shock to you. If you've ever wondered what kind of a hellhole could spawn the likes of Midas Mulligan Magoo, let me present you with Times Square when you could still buy a nickel bag and get a back-alley handy on the same block:

New York City in the 1980's

This is back when Bedford-Stuyvesant was called "Hell's Kitchen" for good reason. You had to be out of your mind or desperate for crack to find yourself down there. Now you can sip chai tea in a sidewalk café without fear of a drive-by.

The photo from The Bronx reminds me of this little old lady I had for a client early in my career. She lived in The Bronx when it was still a war zone. She'd lived there pretty much her whole life and she was determined not to give up any ground to the neighborhood gangs.

And no one my age can look at photos of Coney Island back then without thinking of The Warriors - a 1979 Homeric epic about a gang from C.I. being hunted by everyone in the city:

The city has come a long way in 20 years, and I don't think anyone could argue that it hasn't been for the better. But NY natives also have to admit that the gentrification has cost the city a lot of it's more "eclectic" flavor. Be that as it may, the city now proudly stands as the center of Planet Earth, and it couldn't say that 30 years ago.

Comments (36)

 
Jan 25, 2012 - 8:08am

Classic, I remember the Manhattan of 1990 - 1991....trash everywhere, pan handlers mobbing you as soon as you come out of the tunnel, graffiti everywhere....I'd say the city has changed for the better.

'We're bigger than U.S. Steel"
 
Jan 25, 2012 - 8:59am

Giuliani (and Broken Windows) really did fix it, I'm told. Certainly seems like it, anyway.

"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is." - Oscar Wilde "Seriously, psychology is for those with two x chromosomes." - RagnarDanneskjold
 
Jan 25, 2012 - 9:13am

UncleMilty:
Giuliani (and Broken Windows) really did fix it, I'm told. Certainly seems like it, anyway.

I vaguely remember something in the very first chapter of Freakonomics talking about the decrease in crime across the US, not just NY, over a similar/the same time period. I too thought it was Giuliani, but has anybody else heard that the trend was a national one, not just NY?

Anyway Eddie, great stuff, really enjoyed it. That's why I love New York - not just the Park Avenues but all the weird aspects, the funny parts, the gross things you see are all what makes it awesome.

 
Jan 25, 2012 - 9:35am

prospie:
UncleMilty:
Giuliani (and Broken Windows) really did fix it, I'm told. Certainly seems like it, anyway.

I vaguely remember something in the very first chapter of Freakonomics talking about the decrease in crime across the US, not just NY, over a similar/the same time period. I too thought it was Giuliani, but has anybody else heard that the trend was a national one, not just NY?

Anyway Eddie, great stuff, really enjoyed it. That's why I love New York - not just the Park Avenues but all the weird aspects, the funny parts, the gross things you see are all what makes it awesome.


In the book they tied it back to the legalization of abortion.
If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
 
Jan 25, 2012 - 9:45am

We might be talking about two different Broken Windows.

There's the Broken Window theory in economics which states (erroneously) that a broken window puts all kinds of people to work, from the insurance salesman to the glass maker, to the installer, etc..

Then there's the Broken Window theory in law enforcement, which is a different thing entirely. It basically states that if you take care of the little things, the big things will take care of themselves. In other words, if you make sure there's no broken windows or graffiti in your neighborhood, there's a good chance there won't be any rapes or murders either.

 
Jan 25, 2012 - 11:16am

The hooker on 11th is such a searing memory for me. I remember being in the car with my parents when a hooker, on 11th, strolled down the center lane of the street in between both sides of traffic wearing a fur coat. She proceeded to open up the coat to show everyone her body and I remember so old geezer in a caddy waving her over.

 
Jan 25, 2012 - 12:30pm

tyrets:
The hooker on 11th is such a searing memory for me. I remember being in the car with my parents when a hooker, on 11th, strolled down the center lane of the street in between both sides of traffic wearing a fur coat. She proceeded to open up the coat to show everyone her body and I remember so old geezer in a caddy waving her over.

Hahaha.

 
Jan 25, 2012 - 11:28am

The Warriors is great movie... thanks for the reminder, I'm gonna have to watch that soon

If your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough. "There are two types of people in this world: People who say they pee in the shower, and dirty fucking liars."-Louis C.K.
 
Jan 25, 2012 - 11:54am

Bed-Stuy and Hell's Kitchen are two completely different places. Bed-Stuy is in Brooklyn and Hell's Kitchen is in Manhattan. Hell's Kitchen is still used today, though some people prefer the name "Clinton".

  • 1
 
Jan 25, 2012 - 1:07pm

Brady4MVP:
NYC was a total mess in the 80's after years of terrible governance by liberal mayors. Rudy Giuliani saved NYC in the same way that Reagan saved America from liberal excesses.

I am starting to fall in love with you Brady lol.

 
Jan 25, 2012 - 6:17pm

Brady4MVP:
NYC was a total mess in the 80's after years of terrible governance by liberal mayors. Rudy Giuliani saved NYC in the same way that Reagan saved America from liberal excesses.

Yes, Mr. Reagan saved us by increasing spending. When Reagan was elected the budget was $678 billion; when he left it was $1.2 trillion. He resurrected the war on drugs. He helped the federal government invent asset forfeiture, a practice where the government is allowed to steal and sell people's stuff. Reagan was a god damn liberal.

I am not cocky, I am confident, and when you tell me I am the best it is a compliment. -Styles P
  • 1
 
Jan 25, 2012 - 7:52pm

eokpar02:
Brady4MVP:
NYC was a total mess in the 80's after years of terrible governance by liberal mayors. Rudy Giuliani saved NYC in the same way that Reagan saved America from liberal excesses.

Yes, Mr. Reagan saved us by increasing spending. When Reagan was elected the budget was $678 billion; when he left it was $1.2 trillion. He resurrected the war on drugs. He helped the federal government invent asset forfeiture, a practice where the government is allowed to steal and sell people's stuff. Reagan was a god damn liberal.

easssyyyyyy.. lets get back to NYC. If you want to talk politics get a different thread. And yes, I realize he started it first.

 
Jan 25, 2012 - 9:23pm

Brady4MVP:
NYC was a total mess in the 80's after years of terrible governance by liberal mayors. Rudy Giuliani saved NYC in the same way that Reagan saved America from liberal excesses.

Complete baloney!

You obviously are too young and/or never actually lived in NYC. Giuliani was a liberal whose only deviation from normal liberal-dom was his "tough on crime" side which was natural considering he was a DA before getting elected.

Both times he got elected he was on the LIBERAL PARTY of NY ticket line! Google him.
He was STRONGLY pro-union, pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-affirmative-action, pro-gun control, against prayer in schools, and many others. Not just in rhethoric but in deeds. On his re-election campaign he promised to INCREASE welfare - even though the feds had just slashed it on the federal levels.
He STRONGLY supported (and shielded from the feds) illegal immigrants. Google it.

And for both of his campaigns, the Conservative Party of NY (traditional allies) pointedly refused to back him.

He was liberal enough in his first term that for his re-election, liberal bastions like gay rights groups and ALL the NY unions endorsed him over the Democrat!!

The only time Giuliani ever pretended to be a conservative was when he was running for Prez in 2008.

So any talk about saving the city from "liberal" mayors is BS ... what happened was that NY finally got a liberal, DA mayor - who actually knew how to tackle crime. That's all.

 
Jan 25, 2012 - 11:19pm

silhouette_semi:
Giuliani was a liberal whose only deviation from normal liberal-dom was his "tough on crime" side which was natural considering he was a DA before getting elected.

....and facilitated by the fact that so many people in his life were/are connected, including his father's friends. Funny how that works.
Get busy living
 
Jan 25, 2012 - 1:07pm

Speaking of Midas what happened to him? He didn't go Galt on us did he?

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art - Andy Warhol
 
Jan 25, 2012 - 6:08pm

Fantastic collection of photos. The washed-out look really makes it. I've been to NY once and thought it was kind of shitty then (early 2008) but my god these pictures make it look like fucking baghdad. Dirty, smelly, trash everywhere, everything is broken, bad streets, bad buildings, bad clothes, bad cars...thank God I missed all that.

The picture of the 3 girls in front of the car missing the grille and headlights makes it look like a third world shithole.

 
Jan 25, 2012 - 7:56pm

That cemetery picture is one of the creepiest things I have ever seen.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford
 
Oct 13, 2013 - 6:33pm

....maybe make this shit hole bearable without having to be a billionaire. He said he's not going after the banks, and he's socially permissive, so he's cool in my book. My honest guess is that he'll throw tax advantages to companies in an effort to beef up the middle class presence in NYC.

Get busy living
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