Bring back some good or bad memories


February 27, 2022

’80s New York Street Portrait Photography by Steven Siegel

Compared to the 1970s, the 1980s were a time of restrained optimism in New York. The boom on Wall Street was fueling the speculative real estate market, and unemployment numbers dropped noticeably. Koch successfully balanced the city's budget ahead of schedule, allowing the city to re-enter the bond market and raise cash, effectively ending the city's financial crisis by 1981.

However, the city’s reputation for crime and disorder was still very much a part of New Yorkers' daily lives. The illegal drug trade flourished, causing the murder rate to soar, and dividing the city into areas ruled by different drug lords. It became known as the crack epidemic.

The New York City Subway fell victim to a crime epidemic that saw more crimes being committed on the subway each year than in any other subway system around the world.

Homelessness became a serious problem during the 1980s. The city outlawed discrimination against gay and lesbian people in such matters as employment and housing in 1986.

These fascinating photos were captured by Steven Siegel that show street portraits of New Yorkers in the 1980s.

(Photo © Steven Siegel)

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