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August 21, 2020

40 Amazing Black and White Photos Capture Street Scenes of New York City in the Late 1970s

Reeling from a decade of social turmoil, New York in the 1970s fell into a deep tailspin provoked by the flight of the middle class to the suburbs and a nationwide economic recession that hit New York’s industrial sector especially hard.

New York City in 1978 and 1979

Combined with substantial cuts in law enforcement and citywide unemployment topping ten percent, crime and financial crisis became the dominant themes of the decade.

In just five years from 1969 to 1974, the city lost over 500,000 manufacturing jobs, which resulted in over one million households being dependent on welfare by 1975. In almost the same span, rapes and burglaries tripled, car thefts and felony assaults doubled, and murders went from 681 to 1690 a year.

Depopulation and arson also had pronounced effects on the city: abandoned blocks dotted the landscape, creating vast areas absent of urban cohesion and life itself.

In totality, the decade was a transformative one for New York, as it reconfigured the economic and social realities of America's most prominent city. By the conclusion of the 1970s, over a million people had left the city.

These amazing black and white photos were taken by Patrick Cummins that offer a glimpse into the city and the people living there in 1978 and 1979.

“Sing it and Win!”, Broadway from Howard St.

34th Street and 6th Avenue/Broadway (Herald Square)

42nd St.

42nd St.

42nd St.

Avenue of the Americas

CBGBs at 315 Bowery

Crosby St. from Howard St.

Crosby St. from Howard St.

Double parking, with very wide cars

Grand St., at Broadway, south-west corner

Harlem Moon Bar at W 136th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.

Harlem street scenes

Harlem street scenes

Harlem street scenes

Harlem street scenes

Harlem street scenes

Harlem street scenes

Harlem street scenes

Harlem. Frederick Douglass Blvd., vic 2194, at W 118th St.

Harlem. Snookie's Sugar Bowl at Adam Clayton Powell Junior Blvd. and W 137th St.

Harlem. The New Small's Paradise, W 135th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.

Harlem. W 136th St. and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.

Harlem. W 140th St. Mid-block between Frederick Douglass Blvd. and Adam Clayton Powell Junior Blvd. Lenox Ave. in the distance

Looking north from W. 46th Street

Max's Kansas City at 213 Park Avenue S

New York street scenes

New York street scenes

New York street scenes

New York street scenes

New York street scenes

New York street scenes

New York street scenes

On the left, the New Amsterdam Theatre, 214 W. 42nd Street

On the subway

S. Klein, On the Square, Union Square

Times Square

View from the Taft Hotel on 7th Ave.

View from the Taft Hotel on 7th Ave.

West 21st Street, west of 6th Avenue. Third Cemetery of the Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue on the right

(Photo © Patrick Cummins)




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