15 Stunning Photos That Show How Bad New York City Used to Be
Ahh, New York — land of the nearly-$5 cupcake, $30 hamburger, and $1,250 baseball ticket. (Just so we're clear, real fans — and the Fraade family — sit up in the nosebleeds at Yankee games). It's no secret that this city is expensive, flashy, and one of the best places in the world to be a Master of the Universe.
Given just how much freaking money is floating around the city right now, it's sometimes hard to imagine that New York was ever anything but popular and prosperous. But in the 1970s and 1980s, the city was in seriously bad shape. While New York never reached Detroit or Cleveland-like levels of decline, largely thanks to the city's diversified economy, these photos from just a few decades ago show the kind of gritty urban decay that inspired countless songs and movies about the city, and that — let's be honest — more than a few longtime New Yorkers secretly miss. After all, Ed Koch never tried to ban Big Gulps.
Is the city more vibrant and livable than it's ever been? Did Giuliani destroy the spirit of Gotham by turning Times Square into Disneyland East? Probably a bit of both. Either way, have a look and decide for yourself (and listen to this album while you're doing it).