Note From the Margins




Video Sunday (a day late): 70’s NY – Fun City to Blackout


South Bronx in the 1970's
From CRX Community Forum

If you have 40 odd minutes to kill, this is a fascinating BBC documentary on New York’s mid-70’s fiscal crisis and the events leading up to the blackout: Nightmare in the City That Never Sleeps. Though the documentary has some biases – it is never mentioned for whom the city’s eventual regeneration was to benefit, nor do they do more than touch upon the incredible creativity of the time – it is a great overview of the city’s financial, political and spiritual crisis. Hard to believe now, but there was a period not so long ago that there was a real possibility that the city would be left for dead.

With (among many others): Ed Kock, Tommy Ramone, Rupert Murdoch.

A time not very long before, that this city was predominantly, and proudly, working class, considered not just liberal by such luminaries as Donald Rumsfield, but actively socialist.

Some choice quotes:

“The blackout dramatized that the civlization of the city, of New York could come to an end.”

“There was a sense at that point that the city was ungovernable, that nothing could be done.”

Despite the upbeat ending, life for many in New York would actually get worse in the 80’s and early 90’s, as the homeless flooded the streets, and the crack epidemic raged through the city. Crack actually made heroin look benign.

Followed by the trailer for the iconic John Carpenter film ‘Escape from New York’. New York as maximum security prison, which says a lot about popular perceptions of New York at the time.

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Trailer for ‘Escape From New York’:

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  • City Girl Writes

    I’m looking forward to watching the full documentary and re-visiting that other New York – did it ever exist? It’s hard to believe it ever did.

  • cityofstrangers

    City Girl – Yeah, a little hard to believe now. But I think the fiscal crisis, the blackout – and social democratic, working man’s New York City was very real. In a lot of ways, the city is still playing out what happened in the 70’s when it almost collapsed.

    The doc has some big biases. I wish they’d talked to people from the Harlem or the South Bronx about what it was like to live there, instead of having other (mostly white) people describe it for them. But hey, you were here, hopefully it brings back some memories of that period.