Not surprisingly, a lot has changed since the 70s — it’s hard to believe that “back in the day” there were certain streets people would  never cross because of the imminent danger. Then again, New York in the 70s has a horrific reputation — was it really that bad? To emphasize just how much the city has changed, we took a field trip to lower Manhattan and re-shot some of the locations featured on “Dirty Old 1970’s New York City” as they look today.

If you are a junky for anything related to the gritty and long-departed New York City of yore, then you are probably already a fan of the phenomenal “Dirty Old 1970’s New York City” page on Facebook. For those who are not familiar, this is a page run by an anonymous administrator who collects photographs of NYC during the 1970’s (and occasionally the late 1960’s and early 1980’s) from around the internet. 

The 1970’s version of New York City, which was plagued by bankruptcy, a blackout, police corruption, and sanitation strikes,  is almost incomparable to the luxury strip-mall we are used to today. Surprisingly though, our trip not only revealed the transition of local business and  storefronts, but it also showed just how much some environments in the city have been completely transformed by the complete removal and reconstruction of the environment.

So take a look at some of the locations we scouted out and how drastically they’ve changed in the 40+ years since the original photos were taken. Also, don’t forget to check out “Dirty Old 1970’s New York City” page if you haven’t already.

grateful dead-nyc-1970's-fillmore east-vintage
Camping out for Grateful Dead tickets at The Fillmore East 525 E 11th Street, May, 1970. Photo by Amalie R. Rothschild

hester allen street-nyc-1960sNorthwest corner of Hester and Allen Streets, mid 1960’s

hester street-nyc-sirty old-1970's

delancey bowery street-nyc-1978Northeast corner of Delancey and Bowery, c. 1978. Photo by Manel Armengol

bowery-nyc-dirty old-1970's

great jones-lafayette-1977-nyc
Great Jones at Lafayette, facing South, 1977. Photo by Victor Carnuccio

great jones-nyc-1970's-dirty old new york city

cafe wha-late 1960's-nycMinetta Lane facing North up MacDougal, late 1960’s.

cafe wha-nyc-dirty old-1970's


canal baxter-nyc-chinatown-1980'sCanal and Baxter Street, facing West, 1980s. Photo by John Fensten

dirty new york city-chinatown-untapped cities-1970's


bayard elizabeth st-nyc-1964Bayard and Elizabeth Street in 1964 Chinatown.

dirty nyc-untapped cities-manhattan-chinatown-1970's

st. marks place-third avenue-nyc-1975North side of St. Marks Place, Second to Third Avenue, 1975. Photo by Chris Protopapas

st. marks place-nyc-1970's-nyc-dirty old new york city

grand street-nyc-1970's-manhattan-vintageGrand Street at Broadway, facing Southeast, February, 1978. Photo by Patrick Cummins

dirty old new york city-1970's-vintage-fillmore east-manhattan

8th street-avenues c d-nyc-manhattan-vintage-1970'sEast 8th Street between Avenues C and D, facing Northwest, 1985. Photo by John Freeman

dirty old nyc-1970's-vintage-manhattan-untapped cities

Like the Facebook page itself, these photographs are used for educational purposes only and are credited to the best of our knowledge. If you or anybody you know are aware of the photographer for a particular photograph in this collection, do not hesitate to contact us and we will give credit where it is due.

If you enjoyed this post, check out this article about film locations from the iconic 1970’s NYC movie Saturday Night Fever. Also, be sure to see these photos and accounts of NYC’s most notorious crime scenes.

Contact the author @DouglasCapraro

 Alphabet City, Chinatown, east village, Greenwich Village, St. Mark’s Place, urban development, vintage photos, West Village

2 Responses
  1. Jerry Buchholz Reply

    No comment, more a question or two….

    We lived at 300 Riverside Drive from 1961 to 1970. Our neighbor on the same floor was a photographer. I only remember his last name VASALLI or VASSALLI, his wifes first name was Gaila or Gayla. They were Italian and had two sons, one about my age (born Sep. 62), the other 2 or 3 years younger.

    They were good friends to my mother, who passed away March 2016.

    Would anybody here possibly have an idea where they could have moved to? I know that shortly after we moved out of the building the moved, too. I do not know if they stayed in NYC, went somewhere else in the US or went back to Italy.

    Thank you all for every answer.

  2. Clover Koopman Reply

    I lived in the West Village in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Most impressive about these photos is that in all of them now, there are trees! A lot less noise, filth and graffiti now judging from these photos.

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