Not as good as it was. Better than it will be.
Also titled: "Hooker in the Humidity."
NY in the 80s was in seemingly terminal decline. Everything seemed so shabby. And dated - and not in a good way. The minute you arrived at JFK or LGA you were hustled by unlicensed taxi drivers and baggage theft was so common they actually had airport security match your claim ticket to your actual baggage. The drive in was no better and you encountered roads that were in terrible shape and that were full of trash and potholes (the Grand Central Parkway was a particular Hell.) Graffiti offered the only relief from a stark, decaying urban landscape but it also came with the knowledge that law and order were not the words of the day.Dirty buildings and streets, a general sense of menance and locals who always seemed pissed off made NY a not very nice place. The Wall Street boom in the mid 80s masked some of these problems but by the late 80s NY continued to slowly collapse. Drugs, racial tensions, unwieldly unions and neglected infrastructure had by 1991 made NY, just short of hopless, especially if you had to raise a family there. But the Mets won the Series in 1986 so maybe it wasnt all bad.
@KSB: And yet now, it's great. Why?
JKG - I dont know if I would say NY is great (most of LGA and JFK is still terrible, the public schools are still pretty shitty, infrastructure still needs billions in upgrades, etc.) but its lightyears ahead of were it was in the 80s and is on a more sustainable path.Why? The easy answer is that Giuliani (more specifically his first Police Commissioner Bill Bratton) really did make the city safer with their zero tolerance for petty crimes (you can argue the efficacy of Broken Windows theory all you want but the NYPD put it into practice starting in 94.) And there is a lot of truth to this but Rudy's administration benefited from an improving economy and national trends that saw violent crime decreasing - its better to be lucky than good and Giuliani's first term was both.A safer city coupled with NY's reemergence has a global center of culture and finance (though NY was never dethroned as a global financial capital its importance ebbed a bit in the 80s as London and Tokyo rose to power) helped to improve the city's finances. Giuliani's second term was for the most part a series of missed opportunties as his personal life and petty political vendettas seemed to replace the dynamic leadership of his first term but by 97 the crisis was past and NY was doing well.Bloomberg, his glaring faults and his tendency towards the nanny state aside, was able to institutionalize some of the changes Giuliani had made in his first term and was able to get infrastructure projects accomplished that Giuliani could not. Had Mark Green won in 2001 there existed a danger that NY would have slid back to its wasteful Democratic machine days. Bloomberg was also able to lead NY effectively through the aftermath of 9-11 and the financial crisis - though the brunt of the changes coming to the financial sector will be borne by his successor.Also, and I think this this neglected when talking about NY's comeback, is the revitalization of much of Brooklyn and Queens (the Bronx still has a long way to go.) When I was growing up in NY in the 80s and early 90s much of Brooklyn was a war zone and I remember one thing that struck me as a kid was the dearth of commercial activity there. Now Brooklyn is vibrant and honestly when I return to NY for a visit or for work I think I prefer Brooklyn to Manhattan.Just a few thoughts. I could be wrong but a picture really is worth a thousand words.
I love Main Line Sportman's caption.Thanks for sharing the link. I don't explore Flickr enough. (Yes, I am self-absorbed...)
Main Line- I was thinking of the Humid Hustle but that sounds like disco.KSB & JKG- All true. But I liked it in the 80s. It was so fucking crazy then. You never knew what was gonna happen. Drugs were everywhere. Porn was everywhere. Hookers were everywhere. Hell, walking around some parts of Hell's Kitchen was almost as dangerous as jumping out of a plane. Walking in Spanish Harlem was more dangerous than jumping out of a plane. I ran across Central Park at 1:oo AM. From 99th St on the west side all the way to the east side cause I was broke and took the wrong train from downtown. Ran right into a softball backstop. Got up and kept running. Felt like a super hero when I got to the other side. As if I defied death. And I did. Had sex with a complete stranger in a bathroom. Never saw her again. Defied death again. Went to Aunt Pegs live sex show and saw a fat white man in a suit masturbate in the front row. A hooker propositioned me for $100 and kept going until she got to $20. I told her she was worth a lot more than $20 but I had to go home. A guy ahead of me in line at A&P on 8th Ave in Chelsea was buying 20 cans of cat food. He turned to me and told me I had beautiful blue eyes. Now there's a Red Lobster where Aunt Peg had live sex. The guy who looked like an escaped convict back then? He's a shoe designer at JC Penny. All the fashion types wanna look like toughs and all the toughs left years ago. Forced out by insane rents and a dumbing down of the city. Even the Mayor wants to be my doctor. All of the risk in this city is gone. And so is most of the crime to be sure. But they were my salad days in the '80s. Bitch of it is, I thought NYC would always stay the same. I hope my mother doesn't read this -- or, Bloomberg. Alice- Don't read any of that comment up there. Flickr's great. You're a red head - You get a pass on being self absorbed.
tintin - I'd love to hear some of these 80's NYC stories, I have a somewhat morbid fascination with the city in that era. Also a bit of nostalgia even though I'm too young to remember any of it. Probably due to hearing stories from my parents when they were newlyweds and spent time there.--John
John- I have to wait until some people die first. I'll probably be next after Aunt Peg.
Tintin, as they say in the broadcasting world, can you flesh these stories out more?There is much vicarious livin' I must do through this blog!"I ran across Central Park at 1:oo AM. From 99th St on the west side all the way to the east side cause I was broke and took the wrong train from downtown. Ran right into a softball backstop. Got up and kept running. Felt like a super hero when I got to the other side. As if I defied death. And I did. Had sex with a complete stranger in a bathroom. Never saw her again. Defied death again. "Great post!
NYC in the '80's was a great place to grow up, but it's gone forever. the city is a lot cleaner and safer now, but it's God awfully expensive and pretty bland (only national chains can afford the rents, which is why Broadway looks like an open air regional mall). i'm not bemoaning the changes, NYC is nothing if not in constant flux. i finally moved out after thirty years (have since lived in Boston, Seattle and Chicago), but NYC (the '80's version) is the standard agains which i measure all other cities.
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