Photos That Showcase The Dirty, Dangerous, and Destitute New York City of the 1970s

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For those of you that don’t already know, I love the New York City of the 1970s. I’ve posted a rare photo series, a series of park patron photos, multiple articles illustrating the crime and grime in the subway system, and even the Kojak opening. New York has come a long way in the last few decades, and those natives (myself included) who sometimes clamor for the “New York of old” are looking at their past with rose-tinted glasses. Is it better to walk by a transplanted New York couple with a stroller, or two native New Yorkers looking to mug you? Granted that most people living in New York in the 1970s were peaceful, law-abiding citizens, but the late Ed Koch would be the first to tell you that crime was much too high during his time as NYC Mayor from 1978-1989. I think, maybe, what people actually clamor for is a return to a more blue-collar, affordable New York, and I can’t dispute that the middle class in NYC is shrinking. As the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” widens, we could actually see a rise in the kind of desperate crime that classified 1970s New York, without the gritty, blue-collar picturesque undertones. That’s something all of us New Yorkers need to work together to avoid.


Take a look at these photos shot by Allan Tannenbaum that showcase not only how dirty New York was at the time (the woman in the penultimate photo is a prostitute, while the two in the last are not), but also how great the music scene was as evidenced by one his shots of The Ramones.