Rare Photos of New York Cops and Daily Life at the New York Police Department in the 1970’s

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1970s New York was gritty. The gap between the “haves” and “have-nots” was widening, causing many families to relocate to the suburbs. The TV show Kojak did a great job showcasing how gritty 1970s New York was, but not nearly as well as these actual photos taken by the legendary Leonard Freed of Magnum Photos.


They’ve got such an authentic, gritty, “hardboilednoir feel to them. I absolutely love them. Take a look!


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  • KAMALA1218

    The day when cops where cops and people were so happy to see them. I hope they are all alive and well in retirement, and collecting lots of checks.

    • Stephanie Brubaker

      My dad is. He was on from ’62 to ’82 so those pics in uniform bring back a lot of childhood memories.

      • KAMALA1218

        I hope your dad is alive and well and collecting lots of checks and that nice 12000 vsf payment. I know I am retired in 2013. I bet if your dad is disgusted the way members of the service are treated nowadays. God bless Stephanie.

      • Henry Leshnower

        We went from the dark blue shirts with brass buttons to the light blue shirts. BTW, retired 8-31-82 and check 420 was received, not that I’m counting.

  • Michael Carmody

    I don’t agree with why people fled the city. It was the onslaught of drugs and violent crime that spread like a cancer. In fact it would be more costly on those who moved to the suburbs with travel and mortgage. Having grown up in the Bronx and watching crime destroy my beloved borough it is the very reason I left in the early 90s. Drug dealers threw a grenade in our local Bodega on Hull Ave and Gun hill rd. This was after my parents were burglarized for the second time in their life. Enough was enough. I was on the NYPD from 84 to 04 and these photos are great capture it well.

    • Badkarma060

      84-37. I loved every minute of it, great guys and great bosses 😉

  • Brooklyn Munstro

    Beautiful, thank you. Reminds me of NYC when I was a kid and those guys paving the way for us. Fidelis ad Mortem.

  • Ron Naclerio

    Those were the days of cops being able to do our jobs.

  • Kevin

    I grew up in the City, and have lived here my entire life, and was in my mid teens and early twenties in the 70s. There was no doubt that the Police were in charge of the streets back then. They were no-nosense and not to be messed with and were very tough people. Many were military veterans with recent Vietnam battlefield experience. The streets in low income areas were out of control and very difficult to patrol. The Police were undermanned due to the layoffs of City employees, including Cops. My entrance on to the NYPD was delayed for several years due to the fiscal crisis. Nevertheless, I really always wanted to be a NYC Cop. I had the luxury of working with some of the few holdovers from that era. They were a special breed of Cop and very interesting. I learned a lot from them. In an era that included the NYC Fiscal Crises, the Vietnam War, the intensification of the Drug Crises, the Knapp Commission, Son of Sam Homicides, Blackouts, and the assassination of NYC Police Officers, to name a few, they really did a great job and should be remembered for such.