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 CHPC’s archives.
As New York faces a financial crisis in 2010, these articles give some perspective on how different today’s concerns are from those in the 1970s, a period of economic stagnation coupled with rampant crime. One article, entitled “Where New Yorkers Go…And Don’t Go” contains a poll about well-known locations in the city. The results describes 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 atttitude towards Greenwich Village.
The mood was grim in terms of politcs as well, as social disorder made the city seem increasingly out of control. One survey asked whether the boroughts 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 predication that, thankfully, turns out to have been correct.