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The Future of New York?

Gritty 1970s pictures show New York City in decline as crime soared a hundreds of thousands fled to the suburbs

From the Daily Mail Reporter: The 1970s are considered a low point for New York City. More than 820,00 people fled the crime and an unreliable transit system over the course of the decade, moving from the city to the suburbs. The city went nearly bankrupt as Wall Street sputtered under the economic stagnation of the era.

Down time: The economy in New York City sputtered to a halt in the 1970s, leaving tens of thousands without work. These men were seen napping on a stoop on 30th Street in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood
Down time: The economy in New York City sputtered to a halt in the 1970s, leaving tens of thousands without work. These men were seen napping on a stoop on 30th Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood
Down time: This man waits for nothing in particular as he drinks a beer in the Bowery in Manhattan
Down time: This man waits for nothing in particular as he drinks a beer in the Bowery in Manhattan
Leland Bobbe
Leland Bobbe

Photographer Leland Bobbe captured the gritty, sometimes desperate nature of the men and women who populated New York in the 1970s.

Pimps and prostitutes haunted Times Square. Drug dealers worked openly.

Buildings went vacant and became home to squatters as they fell into disrepair.

The subway became unreliable and dangerous. Muggings and rapes were reported on trains and in the dark tunnels underground.

Bums: The Bowery became a haunt for the homeless, drunkards and other men of ill-repute. It has since been transformed and includes several luxury condo developments

Bums: The Bowery became a haunt for the homeless, drunkards and other men of ill-repute. It has since been transformed and includes several luxury condo developments

Homeless men became so common in the Bowery that the city became known for its 'Bowery Bums,' who camped out on the streetHomeless men became so common in the Bowery that the city became known for its ‘Bowery Bums,’ who camped out on the street
Ladies of the night: Prostitutes also populated the Bowery, plying their trade with johns who wandered in. Here, a man negotiates the price for a prostitute while two others walk past
Ladies of the night: Prostitutes also populated the Bowery, plying their trade with johns who wandered in. Here, a man negotiates the price for a prostitute while two others walk past

The population dropped to less than 7.1million – erasing four decades of growth. By 1980, the population was only slightly higher than it was in 1930.

The city nearly went bankrupt, but the teachers union agreed to invest $150million in city bonds.

President Gerald Ford in 1975 vowed to veto any bill giving New York money to bail out the city’s troubled finances.

That decision resulted in the infamous New York Daily News headline: ‘Ford to City: Drop Dead.’

Later, he reversed course and shelled out $2.3billion in federal funds.

Run down: The men of the Bower were largely neglected until the 1990s when the city began to clean up its homeless problems and workers made an effort to get them into shelters
Run down: The men of the Bower were largely neglected until the 1990s when the city began to clean up its homeless problems and workers made an effort to get them into shelters
The neglected denizens of the Bowery lived together in groups and scrounged what little food, drink and shelter they could
The neglected denizens of the Bowery lived together in groups and scrounged what little food, drink and shelter they could
Two men are seen sleeping together on the street in the Bowery
Two men are seen sleeping together on the street in the Bowery
Now hip young people live in the Bowery in newly-refurbished and re-modeled tenement houses. The Bowery no longer carries the stigma that it did in the 20th century
Now hip young people live in the Bowery in newly-refurbished and re-modeled tenement houses. The Bowery no longer carries the stigma that it did in the 20th century
Protesters at the 1976 Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden mocked President Gerald Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon in 1974
Protesters at the 1976 Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden mocked President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon in 1974
This anti-abortion protester at the convention supported Alabama Governor George Wallace, a segregationist
This anti-abortion protester at the convention supported Alabama Governor George Wallace, a segregationist
In Hell's Kitchen, a man peers out of his apartment building from an old, battered window
In Hell’s Kitchen, a man peers out of his apartment building from an old, battered window
In the Lower East Side, an old Jewish man leans on his cane at a park bench
In the Lower East Side, an old Jewish man leans on his cane at a park bench
Nap time: A man sleeps on the subway. The subway system became rife with crime as riders became the victims of rapes and robberies
Nap time: A man sleeps on the subway. The subway system became rife with crime as riders became the victims of rapes and robberies
A blind woman plays the accordion for tips on the subway. Train troubadours still ply their trade on the city's subway system
A blind woman plays the accordion for tips on the subway. Train troubadours still ply their trade on the city’s subway system

PUBLISHED: 17:47 EST, 8 April 2013 | UPDATED: 09:21 EST, 9 April 2013

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One Comment on “The Future of New York?”

  1. Brittius says:

    Reblogged this on Brittius.com and commented:
    It’s all, coming back. Between two and three years from now. The burned out automobiles in the streets. The red shower curtains hanging out of windows. The junkies. The pimps. The con men. The shootings. The murders. The cop killings. Well, you reap what you sow.


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