When we enter a new year, we inevitably take stock of our lives and our homes. The New York Times did just this in January 1974 with a series of polls of New Yorkers about New York City. Featured here is an original copy of the special reprint of this series, New Yorkers Speak Out On New York, from CHPCs archives.

As New York faces a financial crisis in 2010, these articles give some perspective on how different todays concerns are from those in the 1970s, a period of economic stagnation coupled with rampant crime. One article, entitled “Where New Yorkers GoAnd Don’t Go” contains a poll about well-known locations in the city. The results describe a very different New York: a shocking 37% said that “No one should go to Central Park”, while 41% said that the same of Times Square, and 32% had this attitude towards Greenwich Village.

The mood was grim in terms of politics as well, as social disorder made the city seem increasingly out of control. One survey asked whether the boroughs should be split up. While the response was largely no, the question itself has its own significance.

Other articles in the series ask about the city’s worst ill (indisputably crime), whether the city has become a “welfare dumping ground”, and what steps New Yorkers have taken to protect themselves. The Times also asks about the city’s future, and two-thirds of respondents predicted that, in the long run, the city would be a safer place to live – a prediction that, thankfully, turns out to have been correct.

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