It’s easy to mock or criticize the 1980s but I have rose-colored glasses on when it comes to that decade. I turned 16 in 1980 and spent the happiest decade of my life roving around the quirky, edgy and still dirty and crime-laden New York City on display in this vintage ABC local news segment. If the 70s were the darkest years of the city’s history, the 80s were a time of slow re-emergence–you weren’t in constant danger of getting mugged but one planned ones moves (and subway routes) with a bit more care than one does now. The reporter in this segment–Milton No-Last-Name–not only captures the charmingly screwed up nature of the city in the 80s, he even captures the attitude of the local news anchors. (Sue Simmons and Jack Cafferty were the co-hosts of ‘Live At Five’ and you didn’t want to mess with either of them, especially Sue). This segment is about basic urban deterioration and features streets without signs, traffic lights that don’t work, broken city services and obvious police corruption at the lowest possible levels. It rings with the truth of the New York of that time; it wasn’t as grizzly as the 70s and it wasn’t as anti-septic as the current day. 1980s Manhattan had its own quirkily dangerous edge…one that was somehow both dark and humorous at the same time.


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