Just a year before David Berkowitz started his infamous crime spree, and two years before the carnage of looting and broken glass of the blackout of 1977, New York City stood at the edge of an abyss. It faced bankruptcy and spiking crime. When you stepped off the plane in 1975 at Laguardia Airport, you were greeted with a pamphlet emblazoned with a skull and bold letters that said “Welcome to Fear City.”
The survival guide offered stark advice on how to hide your property, how to avoid violence and robberies, and most of all, “until things change, stay away from New York City if you possibly can.” Plainclothes police officers handed them out as a clear warning. Now there is further tumult almost a generation later. Step out of a cab in Brooklyn or the Bronx today and the same pamphlet may as well be making the rounds.
The incredible run of New York City under both Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg today seems like a distant memory. There were two decades of political stability, economic revival, and falling crime rates. But due to the perfect storm of Bill De Blasio, rioters, and the coronavirus, New York City today is looking far more like the abyss of 1975.