New York Before the Great Clean-Up During the 1970s

New York, often called New York City (NYC), is the most populous city of both New York State and the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over 300 square miles (780 km2) and divided into five boroughs, New York City is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban area. With over 20.1 million people in its metropolitan statistical area and 23.5 million in its combined statistical area as of 2020, New York is one of the world’s most populous megacities. New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and is a significant influence on commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, dining, art, fashion, and sports. It is the most photographed city in the world. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy, an established safe haven for global investors, and is sometimes described as the capital of the world.

Situated on one of the world’s largest natural harbors, with water covering 36.4% of its surface area, New York City is composed of five boroughs, each of which is coextensive with a respective county of the state of New York. The five boroughs—Brooklyn (Kings County), Queens (Queens County), Manhattan (New York County), the Bronx (Bronx County), and Staten Island (Richmond County)—were created when local governments were consolidated into a single municipal entity in 1898. The city and its metropolitan area constitute the premier gateway for legal immigration to the United States. As many as 800 languages are spoken in New York, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. New York is home to more than 3.2 million residents born outside the United States, the largest foreign-born population of any city in the world as of 2016. As of 2018, the New York metropolitan area is estimated to produce a gross metropolitan product (GMP) of nearly $1.8 trillion, ranking it first in the United States. If the New York metropolitan area were a sovereign state, it would have the eighth-largest economy in the world. New York is home to the highest number of billionaires of any city in the world.

New York City traces its origins to a trading post founded on the southern tip of Manhattan Island by Dutch colonists in approximately 1624. The settlement was named New Amsterdam (Dutch: Nieuw Amsterdam) in 1626 and was chartered as a city in 1653. The city came under English control in 1664 and was renamed New York after King Charles II of England granted the lands to his brother, the Duke of York. The city was regained by the Dutch in July 1673 and was renamed New Orange for one year and three months; the city has been continuously named New York since November 1674. New York City was the capital of the United States from 1785 until 1790, and has been the largest U.S. city since 1790. The Statue of Liberty greeted millions of immigrants as they came to the U.S. by ship in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and is a symbol of the U.S. and its ideals of liberty and peace. In the 21st century, New York has emerged as a global node of creativity, entrepreneurship, and environmental sustainability, and as a symbol of freedom and cultural diversity. In 2019, New York was voted the greatest city in the world per a survey of over 30,000 people from 48 cities worldwide, citing its cultural diversity.

Many districts and monuments in New York City are major landmarks, including three of the world’s ten most visited tourist attractions in 2013. A record 66.6 million tourists visited New York City in 2019. Times Square is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway Theater District, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections, and a major center of the world’s entertainment industry. Many of the city’s landmarks, skyscrapers, and parks are known around the world, as is the city’s fast pace, spawning the term New York minute. The Empire State Building has become the global standard of reference to describe the height and length of other structures. Manhattan’s real estate market is among the most expensive in the world. Providing continuous 24/7 service and contributing to the nickname The City That Never Sleeps, the New York City Subway is the largest single-operator rapid transit system worldwide, with 472 rail stations. The city has over 120 colleges and universities, including Columbia University, New York University, Rockefeller University, and the City University of New York system, which is the largest urban public university system in the United States. Anchored by Wall Street in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, New York City has been called both the world’s leading financial center and the most financially powerful city in the world, and is home to the world’s two largest stock exchanges by total market capitalization, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. (Wikipedia)

A street scene in Brooklyn, New York City, 1974
A homeless man sleeps next to a 50 gallon drum of burning scavenged wood, New York, 1970
A 1960s Ford Galaxie and a battered early 1960s Plymouth Valiant cruise along Canal Street with peeling pavement, 1973
A lot of abandoned car chunks of a Triumph Spitfire at Plum Beach near Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, May 1973
An abandoned ’64 Rambler, Queens, New York, June 1973
An abandoned 1960s Ford Thunderbird with broken-out windows and a torn vinyl roof, an abandoned apartment building completes the scene, Breezy Point, Queens, June 1973
An abandoned car at the river, Queens, New York, May 1973
Breezy Point in Queens, New York near the Atlantic Ocean with the abandoned skeleton of an apartment building that was never finished, June 1973
Construction of Independence Plaza North, cobblestoned West Street and Lower Manhattan from under the elevated West Side Highway, New York, June 1973
Ellis Island and industrial Jersey City shoreline across the Hudson with abandoned CRRNJ railroad terminal, June 1973
Half buried early 1960s Dodge Polara station wagon on the beach at the ocean side of Breezy Point in Queens, an abandoned apartment building at left distance, 1973
Independence Plaza North going up in what is now Tribeca in Lower Manhattan, June 1973
Pier ruins across West Street from the World Trade Center, Battery Park City and the World Financial Center would be built here in later years, March 1973
Ruins of old piers across West Street from the World Trade Center where is exactly the World Financial Center is now, March 1973
Skeleton of apartment building never completed, abandoned refrigerators and a burned out 1965 Ford Mustang, Breezy Point, Queens looking toward Brooklyn, 1973
Subway 1973-style with graffiti, March 1973
Battery Park City being built using land excavated from the World Trade Center construction site across West Street, April 1974
Battery Park City being created from soil dug out to build the World Trade Center, Statue of Liberty in the distance, March 1974
Battery Park City landfill edge by Hudson being constructed looking south to Pier A, 1974
Battery Park City landfill, NY Telephone Company, abandoned West Side Highway and the World Trade Center, 1974
Boxes of Adam and Eve products on Reade Street looking east from West Broadway, New York, July 1974
The Battery Park City landfill muck, New York, June 1974
The hulking West Side Highway closed and abandoned, New York, June 1974
Theatre Alley downtown off Ann Street, the narrowest street in Manhattan, filled with the litter and trash, March 1974
World Trade Center (the dark building at Vesey and West St) from Battery Park City landfill, the West Side Highway crosses the whole view, April 1974
23rd St and abandoned West Side Highway, a battered Ford Galaxy 500 drives by on cobblestones, April 1975
Abandoned piers at Exchange Place in Jersey City and the World Trade Center across the Hudson in Lower Manhattan, April 1975
Battery Park City landfill construction, West Street, West Side Highway, The World Trade Center, March 1975
Battery Park City was just a lot of mud with a great view to the industrial skyline of Jersey City and the Colgate Clock, right across West Street from the World Trade Center, April 1975
View from Pier A’s fire escape, Battery Park City landfill, West Side Highway, World Trade Center and lots of colorful 1970s cars on a rainy, foggy day, 1975
View from the 58th floor of the World Trade Center to the Battery Park City landfill, Pier A, end of the West Side Highway and New York Harbor on a foggy afternoon, March 1975
Where the beautiful Battery Park City esplanade along the Hudson is now, June 1975
Nassau Street looking toward Wall Street, Lower Manhattan, 1976
The swampy fields of future Battery Park City, The World Trade Center hovers, New York, August 1976
The abandoned West Side Highway looking out at the completed Battery Park City landfill, New York, April 1978
‘Welcome to Marlboro Country’ sign under the West Side Highway by 150th Street, New York, September 1979

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