Last year, New York City served over 52 million foreign and American tourists. Locals each have their own opinion on tourists invading the city, but according to a tourism pamphlet that surfaced on Reddit (h/t Gothamist) published by the NYC Council for Public Safety in 1975, things were considerably tougher in the streets back then.

Fear City - New York 1975 cover and back page-001Fear City: A Survival Guide for Visitors to the City of New York published by the NYC Council for Public Safety in 1975. Scan courtesy of John Landers, of Brooklyn NY


The Council, made up of unions that included officials such as firefighters and police officers, published this pamphlet that served as an informational guide to New York City. Calling the Big Apple, “Fear City” was part of a Council scare tactic to keep tourists away–all in retaliation for a slew of layoffs that shrunk the city’s police force and other public agencies.

Fear City - New York 1975 pages 2 and 3-001Scan courtesy of John Landers, of Brooklyn NY

Fear City - New York 1975 pages 2 and 3-002Scan courtesy of John Landers, of Brooklyn NY

Besides the skull on the cover, these pamphlets were meant to cast light on the grim conditions of New York City in the 1970s. They also include “helpful” tips for outsiders that include:

  • Stay off the streets after 6 p.m. — “Muggings and occasional murders are on the increase during the early evening hours.”
  • Do not walk — “Try not to go out alone.”
  • Avoid public transportation — “Subway crime is so high that the City recently had to close off the rear half of each train in the evening so that the passengers could huddle together and be better protected..”
  • Remain in Manhattan — “Restrict your travel to daylight hours.”
  • Protect your property — “The city is urging everyone to engrave identifying numbers on all property.”
  • Safeguard your handbag — “Never let it out of your hands; above all, never let it out of your sight.”
  • Conceal property in automobiles — “Remember too that auto thefts have increased this year.”
  • Do not leave valuables in your hotel room, and do not depot them in hotel vault — “Hotel robberies have become virtually uncontrollable.”
  • Be aware of fire hazards — “Try to avoid buildings that are not completely fireproof.”

Clearly some of these suggestions are greatly embellished, but with continued layoffs and rising unemployment, the Council wanted to make a statement about the perils in living in a city where the police force would be shrinking.

Do you think these tips may still be helpful–at keeping safe or at keeping tourists out–in NYC today? Next, check out the equally hysterical Boston version from 1993.