New York across the decades
0 comment Thursday, July 10, 2014 |

I haven't been in New York City for some time. Over the years of my experience of that city, when I lived there at two different periods of my life, I grew to have a love/hate relationship with it. Whatever may be said about New York City, it is a different world for those of us who come from small-town or heartland America.
When I first laid eyes on New York City, in the latter part of the 70s, I was young and naïve, and having come directly from a Texas town of about 5,000 people, naturally I experienced quite a culture shock, and I never really got my bearings in the place, despite my living and working there for a time.
Later on, I came back for a longer sojourn, and learned to acclimate myself to the place and the people, and I felt I 'conquered' it in a sense, at least to the extent that I was able to live there. I even appreciated some aspects of life there. Ultimately, though, I concluded that to stay there would mean becoming something other than myself. I could only really be myself in my own natural environment.
I came across a set of old photos of New York, of Brooklyn, to be precise, taken in the 1970s, not too long before I first laid eyes on New York. The pictures show it looking very much like my first glimpse of it. To be honest, I was utterly dumbfounded by what I saw at first: the graffiti, the squalor, the noise, the harried atmosphere.
The graffiti you see in the pictures at the link may seem unremarkable now, because most of our urban (and suburban) areas are equally plagued with this blight. Now, it is commonplace and some are even bold enough to call it 'art', a description with which I heartily disagree. When I first saw graffiti like this, I was appalled and shocked. It seemed, in some places, to be on every wall and signpost, even all over subway cars, inside and out, on statues, everywhere.
I suppose the younger generations who grew up with this atmosphere of decay take it for granted. It's a part of our environment that seems to be here to stay, because everyone has become tolerant of it, like so many other forms of blight and decay.
I posted, above, the video of New York City in an earlier era, just as a contrast to the images of 1970s New York. Granted, change is inevitable to some extent, but the contrast between the two eras in startling, to me.
Change the people, change the place. The people make the place, as I often say. Make of the pictures what you will.
New York City and the changes it has undergone over the decades is just an accelerated instance of the kind of transformation the rest of the country is undergoing even now. We see the results more starkly in New York City because the process was so much more rapid.
Just something to ponder. As New York goes, so goes the country? Or maybe not. It all depends.

Labels: , , , ,