29 Photos Of 1970s And 1980s Brooklyn Before The Hipsters Invaded (2022)

This was Brooklyn before it became a haven for luxury condos and artisanal pickle shops.

During the forties and fifties, Brooklyn was home to manufacturing and industry that kept its economy thriving. But the boon of World War II was short-lived and soon after, companies left New York for cheaper cities while Brooklynites fled for safer neighborhoods and the city fell into an economic slump that would last for decades.

Drugs and mobsters ruled the streets throughout the seventies and eighties while Brooklyn fell into disrepair as the city cut back on basic services. Still, the borough remained a destination for a diverse set of immigrants from places like Russia, China, and Puerto Rico who intermingled with traditional Brooklyn populations of African-Americans, Italians, and Jews.

Below, we look at twenty-nine pictures of what Brooklyn looked like before it became a haven for luxury condos and artisanal pickle shops:

29 Photos Of 1970s And 1980s Brooklyn Before The Hipsters Invaded (1)

Brooklyn, 1974. Though Brooklyn thrived during World War II, the borough would soon experience a decades long struggle to find stability again. The closure of Brooklyn Navy Yards in 1966, which at the time employed nearly 11,000 people, only exacerbated the problem, leading to a sharp economic decline in the area.Documerica, Danny Lyon/U.S. National Archives

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Brooklyn Bridge in the fog, 1986. Artist Allan Tannenbaum, who photographed New York in the seventies and eighties, remembers the "misery of long lines to buy gasoline." He wrote that conditions in Bed-Stuy were especially bad: "It seemed as if the entire infrastructure was in decay."Ferdinando Scianna

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Bushwick Avenue, 1974. By the 1970s, New York was suffering severe fiscal deterioration—so bad that the city considered filing for bankruptcy. Correspondingly, New York went through a period of middle class flight in which Brooklyn lost more than 300,000 residents in ten years. According to Slate, 80% of the people who fled New York came from Sunset Park, Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy, Ocean Hill, and Brownsville in Brooklyn, as well as the South Bronx.Documerica, Danny Lyon/U.S. National Archives

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Kosciusko Pool, 1974. Since the mass exodus of the seventies, Brooklyn hasn't recovered to its previous population levels. But Brooklyn remained a haven for immigrants looking for a new life in America. In 1970 around 460,000 of Brooklyn's residents were foreign-born. By 2000, nearly 1 million were born outside of the U.S.Documerica, Danny Lyon/U.S. National Archives

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Rockaway Beach, 1978. In the 1970s, the Soviet Union relaxed their immigration policies, giving way for a new set of Russian immigrants who would call Brighton Beach and Coney Island their homes.Susan Meiselas

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Bond Street, 1974. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 helped open the doors to immigrants from outside of Europe. By 1970, 24,000 Puerto Rican people lived in Sunset Park, and since 1990, Dominicans have been the city's largest immigrant group, with many settling in Bushwick and Williamsburg.Documerica, Danny Lyon/U.S. National Archives

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Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1978. New York has the largest African-American population in the United States. After the A-train extended service from Manhattan to Brooklyn, many African-Americans relocated to the Bedford-Stuyvesant area. The seventies saw an influx of affluent African-American families leave Brooklyn for Queens, while the poor were left behind to contend with Brooklyn's rapid deterioration. Dinanda Nooney/NYPL

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Carroll Gardens, 1978. Though neighborhoods of Brooklyn had always catered to the wealthy, the borough underwent a "Brooklyn brownstone movement" in the mid-1970s when urban activists refurbished homes in neighborhoods like Park Slope, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens.Dinanda Nooney/NYPL

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Fort Greene, 1974. In the seventies and eighties, Brooklyn experienced a catastrophic rise in crime rates, gang violence, and organized crime. In a proposed 1975 NYPD campaign, posters emblazoned with skulls entitled "Welcome to Fear City," would list advice for tourists visiting New York, including a plea to remain in Manhattan. Though the posters were never distributed, the sentiment remained: the outer boroughs were extremely dangerous. In 1973, for instance, 2,040 New Yorkers were murdered (compared to only 617 in 2014).Documerica, Danny Lyon/U.S. National Archives

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Aerial view of Brooklyn, 1977. On July 13, 1977, lightning struck power lines in New York, causing a city-wide blackout. In just 24 hours, arsonists set 1,000 fires and looters raided 1,600 businesses, causing 300 million dollars in damage. Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images

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Brooklyn, 1977. The Bronx and Brooklyn were hit the hardest, as cars were stolen, businesses were looted, and buildings burned down. According to NY Daily News, looting took place along the "20-block stretch of Flatbush Ave. between Church and Lenox Aves. and Utica Ave." Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images

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Brooklyn, 1977. The summer of 1977 in New York was already tense. The murderer known as Son of Sam (later identified as Brooklyn native David Berkowitz) was on the loose and causing widespread paranoia. He was finally arrested in August.Robert R. McElroy/Getty Images

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Coney Island, date unknown.

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Mob boss Carlo Gamdino's funeral in Brooklyn; 1976. The mob had a strong presence throughout Brooklyn in this era. The mob boss Sonny Black controlled the Bonanno crime family from his headquarters on Graham Avenue in Williamsburg. Mob expert Christian Cipollini told Vice that when future mobsters came to America from Sicily, many of them settled in Williamsburg.Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

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Bushwick, 1979. After becoming head of the Bonanno crime family in 1974, Carmine Galante controlled an expansive drug-trafficking empire. His power grab made him deadly enemies in New York's competing crime families, and he was assassinated outside Joe and Mary's Italian restaurant in Bushwick in 1979.

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Bensonhurst, 1990. Mobster John Gotti also rose to prominence in the eighties. Though he was brought to trial many times, he wasn't convicted of a single crime until 1992, earning him the nickname 'The Teflon Don.' In one of his last acts as a mob boss, Gotti ordered the execution of Edward Garofalo in 1990 outside his home in Bensonhurt, Brooklyn, to keep him from providing information on the mob's criminal activities to the authorities.

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Coney Island, 1986. A family walks along the boardwalk.

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Puerto Rican boys play baseball in Highland Park, Brooklyn; 1974. Not everyone living in Brooklyn was a crime lord, though. Community activists worked to rebuild Brooklyn. The Puerto Rican organization Los Sures fixed up poorly maintained buildings while the youth organization El Puente offered safe havens for teenagers.Documerica, Danny Lyon/U.S. National Archives

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Graffiti offers a warning, date unknown. The 1980s also saw the start of the crack cocaine epidemic. Crack triggered a national crisis as entire communities succumbed to cycles of addiction and crime. By 1991, Lee Brown, New York's police commissioner at the time, told the Harvard Business Review that, "The crack epidemic has precipitated an explosion of violent crime, unlike anything we've ever experienced."

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Brooklyn, 1986.In 1981, community activist Luis Garden Acosta called North Brooklyn the "killing fields" after the number of teenagers killed in gang-related incidents surged.Rene Burri

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East New York. Kids at a fire hydrant during a heatwave, date unknown.

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Bensonhurst, 1988. Racial divides between the neighborhoods of Brooklyn often resulted in tragedy. In 1989, African-American teenager Yusef Hawkins was shot to death in the predominately Italian neighborhood of Bensonhurst. Thousands of people mourned Hawkin's murder, and in the ensuring weeks, his parents, along with activist Rev. Al Sharpton, held demonstrations in the streets of Bensonhurst, where they were met with jeers and racial epithets. At the time, the LA Times reported that Bensonhurst had a disturbing history of racially motivated violence. One political worker told the Times that, "Brooklyn and Queens are extremely racist... It's a fear of the unknown, which seems kind of crazy in 1989."Eli Reed

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Crown Heights riot, 1991. Racial tensions spilled over into the nineties. On August 19, 1991, Yosef Lifsh, a Hasid, got into a car accident on his way to a funeral in Crowne Heights. His car crushed two African-American children, cousins Angela and Gavin Cato. An ambulance from the Hasidic run emergency service Hatzolah arrived to treat Lifsh, while the children were taken to Kings Country Hospital. Gavin died, though Angela survived, prompting rumors that the Hasidic ambulance crew had neglected the black children in favor the Jewish men, and that Lifsch was drunk (both untrue).Eli Reed

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Crown Heights, Brooklyn; 1991. The accident sparked riots broke out throughout Crown Heights. Thousands of protesters marched through the neighborhood. Black residents felt that their Jewish neighbors had better police protection, while some teenagers targeted Jews with violence. Five blocks from the scene, Yankel Rosenbaum was attacked and stabbed four times by Lemrick Nelson. Violence continued in the neighborhood for three days before police finally restored order.Eli Reed

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Crown Heights, 1991. Media coverage at the time focused on rising racial tensions throughout the borough, but after the incident, the Crowne Heights Coalition was formed to facilitate cultural understanding and improve police-community relations. Since 1991, then the Jewish population of Brooklyn has doubled, and a 2012 study found that 1 in 4 Brooklyn residents are Jewish.

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Abu Bakr Mosque, Brooklyn, 1993. Brooklyn was by no means restricted by local crime. On February 26, 1993, a truck bomb detonated underneath the North Tower of the World Trade Center. That summer, the blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman was linked to Egypt's largest Islamic extremist fundamentalist group Jamaa Islamiyya. He surrendered to immigration officials on July 2. He was convicted of seditious conspiracy in 1995, and is currently serving a life sentence in North Carolina.Helayne Seidman/AFP/Getty Images

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Brooklyn Bridge, 1997. Brooklyn's trauma was far from over though. On August 9, 1997, Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant, was beaten and sexually assaulted by police officers in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The attack provoked outrage in Brooklyn's immigrant and minority communities. More than 7,000 demonstrators marched to city hall, protesting police brutality and demanding justice for Louima, who eventually reached the largest police brutality settlement in New York City history.Bob Strong/AFP/Getty Images

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Bedford-Stuyvesant, 1997. No matter the problems they faced, Brooklynites honored each other, as mourners gathered to celebrate the life of rapper Notorious B.I.G on March 18, 1997.Jon Levy/AFP/Getty Images

Next, look at when the New York subways were the most dangerous place on the planet, then check out photos from 1970s New York.

FAQs

When did Brooklyn become hipster? ›

Since the late 1990s, Williamsburg has undergone significant gentrification characterized by a contemporary art scene, hipster culture, and vibrant nightlife that has projected its image internationally as a "Little Berlin." During the early 2000s, the neighborhood became a center for indie rock and electroclash.

What was Brooklyn like in the 1980s? ›

Bensonhurst, Brooklyn in the 1980s - YouTube

Is Brooklyn still hipster? ›

Manhattan is out, Brooklyn is in. While it may surprise you to discover that America's creative class now resides across the East River, Brooklyn is the new home of what's hip. In fact, sometimes Brooklynites' adherence to trends has earned them "hipster" labels.

What was Brooklyn like in the 1960s? ›

In the 1960s, as the booming economy following World War II began to wane, neighborhoods across Brooklyn fell into poverty and violence. Manufacturing jobs started to leave the borough, and in 1966, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a source of jobs for 12,000 people and the very symbol of industry in Brooklyn, was closed down.

Where do hipsters live in Brooklyn? ›

Starting off this list with one of the most popular and affordable neighborhoods on the rise, Bushwick is Brooklyn's newest hipster area. Young artists and creative types priced out of Williamsburg have migrated east to a neighborhood full of cheap vintage stores, coffee shops, cocktail bars and artist-run galleries.

What is Brooklyn hipster? ›

How Hipster is Brooklyn, NYC? - YouTube

What was it like in Brooklyn in the 1970s? ›

The 1970s were a highly recognizable era for Brooklyn, from the graffiti'd stoops to the local dress, the comparative lack of tall buildings and the ubiquity of mom and pop shops. A student at Pratt at the time, photographer Peter Bellamy captured the era on film.

What was New York like in the 1970s? ›

In the 1970s, New York City was a broken, ungovernable metropolis barreling into anarchy. New Yorkers remember this decade as the bleakest, most crime-ridden, and most uncertain time the city has ever faced. It was a time of economic, criminal, and cultural shifts occurring at once that changed the city's prospects.

What was NYC like in the 1980s? ›

Compared to the 1970s, the 1980s were a time of restrained optimism in New York. The boom on Wall Street was fueling the speculative real estate market, and unemployment numbers dropped noticeably.

What's the coolest neighborhood in Brooklyn? ›

Probably the most well-known of 'coolest neighborhoods in Brooklyn' due to its high concentration of hipster culture, artists, and ubiquitous amounts of places to dine, drink, and entertainment, Williamsburg is no doubt one of the most fun areas in Brooklyn to explore and a great introductory neighborhood if you're ...

What is the hippest neighborhood in NYC? ›

Based on a survey of over 27,000 people, the list crowned Chelsea as not only the coolest neighborhood in NYC but also one of the top 10 coolest in the world.

What was Brooklyn like in the 50s? ›

Brooklyn at the time was mainly a patchwork of ethnic enclaves with a ton of Italian, Jewish, and Irish immigrants and the second generation of earlier immigration waves. Plus, they still had the Brooklyn Dodgers, who would have never moved to Los Angeles if this domed stadium had been built.

Was New York safe in the 60s? ›

New York was dirty, yes, and crime-ridden, but it was not boring. It was filled with people who were doing things they hoped would matter, who were committed to their work, their ideals, their city. Sometimes this led to a sense of self-importance, but the usual quota of failures would take care of that in time.

What was happening in New York in the 1960s? ›

New York in the 1960s saw countless strikes and protests. And, sometimes, protest boiled over into violence. During the Harlem riot of 1964, for example, African-Americans rebelled against police brutality after an officer killed a 15-year-old boy.

Who was the first hipster? ›

A. We most likely have the jazz clubs of 1940s Harlem to thank for the term, although its meaning may have changed some since then. A Bronx-born, Juilliard-trained musician named Harry Raab helped popularize the word with his stage name: Harry “the Hipster” Gibson.

Is Williamsburg still hipster? ›

In either case, Williamsburg is the place to be. With hip boutiques and vintage shops, trendy cafes and bangin' nightclubs, Williamsburg is the ideal spot to experience life as an NYC hipster.

You won't believe how different Brooklyn once looked.

Young street racers on Brooklyn's Third Avenue, between 29th and 17th Streets.. Several children flee police officers during a race riot in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.. July 1964.Bettmann/Getty Images. Bettmann/Getty Images. May 1960.Bettmann/Getty Images. June 1960.Ted Russell/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images. Buyenlarge/Getty Images. Indignant Brooklyn Navy Yard workers offer thumbs down to express their ire over Defense Secretary Robert McNamara's order to shut down both Brooklyn's Navy Yard and Army Terminal.. CBS/Getty Images. July 1963.Arthur Schatz/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images. A far cry from the gentrified boomtown that is modern Brooklyn, the old Brooklyn of the 1960s was a gritty place defined by starkly drawn ethnic enclaves, urban decay, and devastating crime waves.. While crime had not yet reached the fever pitch that it would in the New York of later decades, 1960s Brooklyn represented the beginning of Brooklyn's long descent — one from which it has only recovered in recent years.. Manufacturing jobs started to leave the borough, and in 1966, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a source of jobs for 12,000 people and the very symbol of industry in Brooklyn, was closed down.. By the late 1960s, these economic factors, as well as racist views towards the growing African-American population in the borough, led many families in white neighborhoods to leave Brooklyn for the suburban communities of Long Island.. Ultimately, whether in terms of culture, crime, ethnic makeup, or otherwise, the Brooklyn of the 1960s was a place in transition — much like the Brooklyn of today.

Brooklyn wasn’t always hipster heaven. During the 1940s and 1950s, Brooklyn was a thriving manufacturing community, where working class Americans could find a

Brooklyn Home Falling Apart – 1966. The murder rate was four times higher in 1974 than it would be 20 years later in 2014.. MournersBearded hipsters rule the streets in modern Williamsburg, but in the mid-1970s the Italian mafia ran things from their headquarters on Graham Avenue in Williamsburg.. A mob assassinationIn 1974, Carmine Galante took over the Bonanno crime family, steering the organized crime syndicate deep into the world of drug trafficking.. His daring rise to power made many enemies among New York’s other mafia families, and Galante was murdered outside of Joe and Mary’s Italian restaurant in Bushwick in 1979.. In 1970, over 460,000 of Brooklyn’s residents were foreign-born.. Students in front of the Music AcademyNew York has more African-American residents than any other city in America.. The fallout from the blackout was catastrophic, causing $300 million worth of property damage.. Family Time in Carroll Gardens – 1978. When the Soviet Union relaxed their immigration policies in the 1970s, it opened up new opportunities for Russian immigrants to move to America.. Police taking a breakDuring the early 1990s, racial tensions ran high and there were riots after an incident between the African-American and Jewish communities in Crown Heights.. was murdered in 1997, the entire neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant gathered to celebrate his life.

Stunning pictures have emerged that offer a glimpse into the gritty life in New York City in 1979. The incredible images were taken over a decade before the famous 'clean up' of the city.

The incredible images, taken over a decade before the famous 'clean up' of the city under Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the 1990s, show some of the Big Apple's landmarks as they were back then including Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and a poignant view from inside the World Trade Center.. When Terry Dwyer visited New York in 1979 the towers had only been standing for six years having been built in 1973.. The complex consisted of seven buildings with the biggest called 1 World Trade Center, at 1,368 feet, and 2 World Trade Center, at 1,362 feet and were the tallest buildings in the world; pictured right the view from the One World Observatory of One World Trade Center (1 WTC) with Hudson River and Empire State Building on August 10, 2015 in New York City.. Pedestrians cross the intersection of 42nd Street in Midtown, near Grand Central Station.. Cops and members of the public stand outside the 5th Precinct in Chinatown.. The number of murders in the city had more than doubled over the past decade, from 681 in 1965 to 1,690 in 1975. Friendlier neighborhood: The 52nd precinct still stands and as of 2014, there were 328 homicides in the city, the lowest number since at least 1963; Crime rates spiked in the 1980s and early 1990s thanks to the crack epidemic. 'Although I was impressed by the usual tourist attractions of NYC, I was deeply affected by what I saw when driving through Harlem or past the Bronx.. The Manhattan Chinatown is now one of nine Chinatown neighborhoods in New York City, and 12 in the metropolitan area, which contains the largest ethnic Chinese population outside of Asia. A quieter corner of Harlem at 122nd Street is seen in this picture.. By the 1980s the city's population was just over 7 million but with the major clean up and economic rejuvenation it is now home to 8.5 million and attracted around 50 million tourists in 2015 alone. Grand Central Station has stood the test of time and is still one of the city's most impressive buildings; In 2013, the terminal itself hosted 21.6 million visitors, putting it in the top 10 most-visited tourist attractions in the world. Dwyer (pictured) poses for the camera with the city skyline, including the World Trade Center, in the distance.

Want to learn about how trends change over the decades. Here's what you need to know about the evolution of hipsters.

Hipsters.. Want to know who the first hipsters really were?. Take a ride with ENTITY as we explore hipster history from the 1940s to today!. They were actually men and women connected to the jazz scene in the 1940s .. Other trends from this time period include tons of eyeliner (and even guyliner!. These trends didn’t die with 2001 either.. Those flannels that people started wearing in the late 2000’s?. You can’t say that hipsters don’t have a sense of humor either.. Ashton Kutcher is one hipster celebrity best known for rockin’ plenty of trucker hats.. Slip-on shoes struck the scene once again popular, except they were called TOMS instead of Vans.. Men grew out the gnarliest beards from the mountain men of the Old West, women donned flower headdresses and flowy dresses of Woodstock and the precious flannel that hipsters have long treasured throughout the years appeared once again.. That’s right, hipsters liked the style of 2012 so much that they reclaimed it in 2015 and 2016.. “Man buns” are popular, men wear dress shoes without socks and everyone with less than 20/20 vision wears the same glasses as 80 year-old Woody Allen.. Only time can tell, but you can bet that you’ll find out soon enough – and that you’ll probably be wearing the same trends a few months later!

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