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New York City 1978: Naked By Daylight

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In the 1970s New York City had lost its appeal. The heaven-reaching skyscrapers were jaded. New York City was seedy, grotty and decayed. Seen at night, New York with its blurry neon lighting smudged by visible air could create an impressionist feel, the scars and failing beauty disguised and more easily ignored. But in daylight, the city was as washed out and lacklustre as any Soviet metropolis. People look lonely and isolated in the crowds.

Photography, once adopted by architects to show off their buildings, now speaks of their failures. A city should, even in straightened times, possess what one writer terms “layers of urban archaeology”, allowing the city dweller to wander down streets of varying age and build. New York in the troubled 1970s appears to have constructed in one monumental and tyrannical drive and then aged overnight.

In 1978, Alex Razbash was a tourist in Manhattan-centric New York City. His photos of New York City by day capture the mood, showing us ordinary faces of the city at a challenging time. Nothing shines.

 

New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York City 1978 New York New York 1978-38

  • Michael Laughlin

    The thing is, a lot of people are nostalgic for the NYC of the 70s.

    • Mack Bonham

      Mostly people who didn’t live through it. Filth and crime are a lot less romantic when they’re reality.

    • bobbych

      I remember visiting NYC in the 1970s. Aside from the pleasure of listening to 77WABC on the radio, it was a filthy, dangerous and miserable place. And let’s not forget what happened when the lights went out – massive looting.

  • David

    NYC was a lot more interesting and had a lot more personlity back then.

    • ZoetMB

      Yes and no. It wasn’t filled with many national chain retail and national fast food and while Manhattan was always expensive, the City was relatively affordable. There were still tons of record stores, book stores, movie theaters, clubs, cafes, music venues, etc. But it was filthy, dangerous and in many ways, depressing and the city spent much of that era completely broke. All those people who claim to have loved the old 42nd street, filled with drug dealers and sleazy prostitutes, never really hung out there. Between 1970 and 1980, NYC lost 10% of its population with a net loss of over 823,000 people, because people couldn’t stand it here anymore, due to crime, bad schools and filth. It took almost 30 years to gain that population back. In 1972, there were 1691 murders in NYC, compared with just 339 in 2016 (and peaking in 1990 with 2245). That didn’t make it more interesting – it made it more miserable.

      I’d prefer a City that didn’t cater almost exclusively to the rich, that wasn’t plagued by national chains and greedy landlords who have largely pushed out interesting local businesses. And I’d prefer a city that still had lots of book and record stores. Just since 2001, we’ve lost 32% of movie theaters and 18% of the screen count. We’ve made it unaffordable for artists, who largely started in the Village, got pushed out to Soho, then Alphabet City, then Brooklyn or Astoria and now can’t afford to live there either. While everyone seems to want to live here, I predict a reversal of the current trend and that we’ll have another decrease in population unless housing becomes more affordable.

      So in the end, it’s a mixed bag. But at least we didn’t end up like Detroit or have the crime levels of current day Chicago.

  • cdnalor

    The twenty-fifth photo with a blue Metro station sign is on St-Jacques street in Montreal, Canada