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The Grit and Groove of Brooklyn in the 1970s Through Photos That Showcase a Decade of Change

Brooklyn, the heartbeat of New York City, has witnessed eras of triumph, challenge, and resurgence. The 1970s was a defining period, replete with socio-economic trials, artistic rebirth, and the seeds of a nascent urban revival.

Economic Downturn and Urban Decay

The 1970s ushered in an era of economic challenges for New York City, and Brooklyn was no exception. The manufacturing sector’s decline, coupled with a fiscal crisis, led to increasing unemployment and a strain on municipal services. Iconic industries that had flourished in Brooklyn’s waterfront areas began to wane, leading to urban decay and a rise in crime.

The Birth of Hip-Hop and the Arts Boom

Despite economic challenges, Brooklyn’s cultural scene refused to dim. The borough played a pivotal role in the genesis of hip-hop, with pioneers crafting beats and rhymes that would soon captivate the world. Additionally, underground art scenes, from graffiti to avant-garde theater, found a home in Brooklyn, laying the groundwork for the borough’s future as an arts mecca.

The Subway: Lifeblood and Challenge

Brooklyn’s subway system, a vital artery connecting its neighborhoods, faced its own set of challenges in the ’70s. While it facilitated daily commutes for countless Brooklynites, the system grappled with underfunding, graffiti, and crime. However, true to Brooklyn’s spirit, communities rallied together, advocating for better services and safer transit experiences.

Neighborhoods like Park Slope began to see the early stages of gentrification, as brownstones were renovated, and local businesses revived. Grassroots movements, whether rallying against housing injustices or championing better schools, showcased the indefatigable spirit of Brooklynites.

Below are some spectacular vintage photos of Brooklyn from the 1970s. If these images resonate with you, please consider sharing this post with others who share your passion for exploring the layered history of New York City.

#1 Cantalupo Realty on 85th Street, Alleged Mafia Involvement, Brooklyn, 1970

#2 Caplan Buick-Opel Dealership, Allegedly Owned by Joseph Colombo, Brooklyn, 1970

#3 Brooklyn Social Club Raided, Alleged Mafia Torture Chamber, 1970

#4 Fast Food Restaurants on Surf Avenue, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1971

#5 Signage at Coney Island’s Astroland Park, Brooklyn, 1971

#6 Police and Media Outside Junkyard Crime Headquarters, Brooklyn, 1972

#7 Three People on Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, 1972

#8 Cars Lined Up for Gas During Oil Crisis, Brooklyn, 1973

#9 Man Eating Hot Dog in Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1973

#10 Woman Standing on Surf Avenue, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1973

#11 Hostage Rescue at John and Al Sports Store, Brooklyn, 1973

#12 Lions Club Member at Home With Honor Parade, Brooklyn, 1973

#14 ‘Tornado’ Roller Coaster at Coney Island’s Astroland Park, Brooklyn, 1973

#15 Woman Feeds Baby Ice Cream on Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn, 1973

#16 Man Playing Games at Astroland Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1973

#17 Palm Reading and Gaming Booth at Astroland Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1973

#18 Pedestrians on West 12th Street at Astroland Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1973

#19 Crowded Coney Island Boardwalk with Partial View of ‘Tornado,’ Brooklyn, 1973

#20 Group in Front of Gaming Booth at Astroland Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1973

#21 Boycott at Public School 251 Over Tilden Housing Project Admissions, Brooklyn, 1973

#22 View of Walentas Building, Sweeney Building, and Empire Stores, Brooklyn, 1974

#23 Empire Stores with Partial View of Brooklyn Bridge, 1974

#25 Corner Store Under Elevated Train Tracks at Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn, 1974

#26 Two Teenage Girls in Front of Graffiti Wall, Lynch Park, Brooklyn, 1974

#27 Building Partially Gutted by Fire Across from Lynch Park, Brooklyn, 1974

#28 Boys Behind Chain Link Fence in Lynch Park, Brooklyn, 1974

#30 Renovated Brownstone Apartments in Brooklyn, 1974

#31 Children Playing on Shore at Reis Park Beach, Brooklyn, 1974

#32 Couple on a Bench at Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1974

#33 People Driving Bumper Cars at Coney Island’s Astroland Park, Brooklyn, 1974

#34 Woman Walking Past Ruined Buildings in Bushwick, Brooklyn, 1970s

#35 Buildings at Old Fulton Street with Brooklyn Bridge in Background, Brooklyn, 1975

#36 View from Old Fulton Street to Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, 1975

#37 Buildings at 4 and 2 Water Street, Once the Franklin House Hotel, Brooklyn, 1975.

#38 Shuttered Windows of the Empire Stores at 53-83 Water Street, Brooklyn, 1975.

#39 Southeast View Toward Old Fulton and Water Streets, Brooklyn, 1975.

#40 Westward View Across Empire Stores Grounds, Brooklyn Bridge in Background, Brooklyn, 1975.

#41 Northward View on Everit Street Toward Waterfront Restaurant and McCann’s Bar, Brooklyn, 1975.

#42 Men Outside Waterfront Restaurant at Water Street and Old Fulton Street, Brooklyn, 1975.

#43 Beach and Boardwalk at Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1975.

#44 Northward View on Clinton Street Between Livingston and Schermerhorn Streets, Brooklyn, 1975.

#47 Skyline of Lower Manhattan from Manhattan Bridge Overpass, Brooklyn, 1975.

#48 Westward View Across Empire Stores Grounds at 53-83 Water Street, Brooklyn, 1975.

#49 Fried Trading Building, Possibly at 411-415 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 1975.

#50 Westward View on Broadway to 195 Broadway, Originally Sparrow Shoe Factory, Brooklyn, 1975.

#51 Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch in Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, 1975.

#52 Heights Casino at 75 Montague Street, Brooklyn, 1975.

#54 Northward View from Williamsburg Bridge Showing Manhattan Skyline, Brooklyn, 1975.

#55 Boys on South Side of Broadway Between Berry Street and Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 1975.

#56 Holy Trinity Church of Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church in Exile, Originally Williamsburg Trust Building, Brooklyn, 1975.

#57 Men Outside a Rundown Property in Brooklyn, 1975.

#59 Children on Derelict Garage in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, 1975.

#60 Surf Avenue in Coney Island with Cyclone Roller Coaster and Wonder Wheel, Brooklyn, 1975.

#61 Henry Ward Beecher Statue Near Downtown Post Office, Brooklyn, 1976.

#62 Crowd at Gregory & Paul’s Beachfront Fast-Food Kiosk, Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1976.

#64 Mourner at Carlo Gambino’s Funeral, Our Lady of Grace Church, Brooklyn, 1976.

#65 Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, 1977.

#66 Buildings at 22, 24, 26, 28, and 30 Orange Street, Brooklyn, 1977.

#67 Southward View on Clinton Street from Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, 1977.

#68 Children Bicycling Past 51 Sidney Place, Brooklyn, 1985.

#69 Southwest View from Empire Stores Across East River to Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, 1977.

#70 Southwest View from Williamsburg Bridge to Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, 1977.

#71 Southward View Over East River from Williamsburg Bridge Foot, Brooklyn, 1977.

#72 Holy Trinity Church of Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church in Exile, Eastern Facade, Brooklyn, 1977.

#75 Police Officers and Passersby Stand in Front of a Damaged Storefront Looting in the Wake of the Blackout, Brooklyn, 1977

#76 People Walk Across from the Brooklyn Bridge During the 1977 Blackout Power Failure, Brooklyn, 1977

#77 Children Cool Off Under the Spray from a Fire Hydrant Sprinkler in Brooklyn’s Bushwick Neighborhood, Brooklyn, 1977

#78 Children Dance Under the Spray from a Fire Hydrant Sprinkler in Brooklyn’s Bushwick Neighborhood, Brooklyn, 1977

#79 Residents of Bushwick Watch Kids Play in Open Fire Hydrants on a Hot Summer Day, Brooklyn, 1977

#80 The Car Belonging to Robert Violante, Parked in Bath Beach Where Violante and Stacy Moskowitz Were Shot by David Berkowitz, Brooklyn, 1977

#81 New Yorkers Jam the Brooklyn Bridge After a Power Outage Shuts Down the Subway System, Brooklyn, late 1970s

#82 View Looking Southwest Across the East River to the Brooklyn Bridge and Twin Towers, Brooklyn, circa 1978

#83 View Looking North on Washington Street from Front Street to the Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn, circa 1978

#84 Pedestrians Head to Nathan’s Hot Dog Stand at Coney Island Beach, Brooklyn, 1970s

#85 Man Carries a Newspaper Under an Elevated Subway Track in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, 1979

#86 Cast of ‘The Warriors’ Pose in Front of Graffiti-Covered Store Fronts at Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1979

#87 Elevated View Along a City Street in Brighton Beach with Pedestrians and Shoppers, Brooklyn, 1979

#88 Scene from ‘The Warriors’ with the Gang Walking Along Bowery Street in Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1979

#89 Residents Stand on Fire Escapes Behind Joe & Mary’s Restaurant Where Mafia Boss Carmine Galante Was Gunned Down, Brooklyn, 1979

#90 The Body of Nino Cappolla Carried from Joe and Mary’s Restaurant After Being Shot Dead, Brooklyn, 1979

#91 Chassidim on Lee Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1979

#93 People Still Live in a Building Next to Burnt Ruins in Brooklyn, 1974

#95 Skyline of Downtown Manhattan from a Rotting Brooklyn Pier, Brooklyn, 1970s

#96 Williamsburg Bridge Crosses East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan, Brooklyn, ca. 1973

#99 Three Young Girls Pose in Front of an Abandoned Car in Brooklyn, 1973

#100 Aerial View of Downtown Manhattan with Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn, 1970s

#101 Four Girls Have Fun on a Tire Swing in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 1977

#102 Teenage Boy Playing Goalie on His Street Hockey Team, No Year

#103 Brooklyn Bridge Tower Emerging Behind 19th Century Buildings on Front Street, Brooklyn, 1975

#104 Classic View of the Manhattan Bridge Tower in Brooklyn, 1974

#105 Aerial View of the Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan, 1970s

#106 Three Young Boys Pose in Front of a Graffitied Wall in a Brooklyn Park, 1973

#107 Two Young Girls Pose in Front of a Graffitied Wall in Brooklyn, 1973

#108 Kids Playing in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, ca. 1973

#112 Temporary ramp on the Brooklyn Bridge during renovation of pedestrian and biking path, serious disrepair evident, 1970s

#113 Same view of the temporary ramp on the Brooklyn Bridge under renovation, 1970s

#114 Aerial view of the East River featuring the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges, 1970s.

#115 Jewish woman window shopping at a Kosher butcher shop in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, 1970s.

#116 Young teenager’s silhouette playing stickball in Park Slope, Brooklyn, 1978.

#117 Exercise class for seniors in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, 1977.

#118 Senior citizens exercise on the sand in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, Summer 1977.

#119 The Montague at 105 Brooklyn Heights Montague Street, Brooklyn, 1975.

#121 Brownstone apartments under renovation in Brooklyn, year unspecified.

#122 Catholic schoolgirls posing for a photo in Brooklyn, 1977.

#123 Actor Telly Savalas, known for his role as Kojack the Brooklyn cop, in London, 1975.

#124 Park Slope recycling center in Brooklyn handles three tons of newspapers weekly, 1973.

#125 Family flashes rabbit ear sign from a school bus in Brooklyn, 1976.

#126 Towel with Humphrey Bogart’s likeness on Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, 1975.

#127 Brownstone apartments under renovation in Brooklyn, year unspecified.

#128 Shop fronts on Brooklyn Heights 107 Montague Street, Brooklyn, 1975.

#131 Exterior of a drugstore selling kosher items in Borough Park, Brooklyn, 1977.

#132 Orthodox man eats kosher pizza at Levy’s in Borough Park, Brooklyn, 1978.

#133 Side view of Nathan’s in Coney Island, Brooklyn when hot dogs were 45 cents, 1975.

#134 Polar Bear Club members exercise on New Year’s day in Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1976.

#135 Sunbathing in Coney Island, Brooklyn, year unspecified.

#136 View of the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan, 1974.

#137 Michael Boodlay celebrates his 1,000th ride on the Cyclone, year unspecified.

#138 Brooklyn Bridge jammed due to power outage affecting subway, 1978.

#139 Jackie Robinson and wife Rachel accepting an award during 1972 World Series.

#140 George McGovern and Ed Muskie during a walking tour of Brooklyn, 1972.

#141 Seniors at the ocean’s edge in Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1975.

#142 View of New York skyline and Brooklyn Bridge, 1970.

#144 Children playing double Dutch at a block party in Brooklyn, year unspecified.

#145 Broken Bergen Tile sign reads ‘Gentile’ on Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 1979.

#146 Paramount Theatre in Brooklyn showing American Hot Wax, 1978.

#147 Exxon truck refills gas station pumps in Brooklyn, 1975.

#148 Polar Bear club group portrait on a snowy day in Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1976.

#149 Experimental photography view of Manhattan from Brooklyn, 1973.

#150 Fire damaged abandoned buildings in Brooklyn, 1977.

#151 Elevated view of Bushwick Avenue in Brooklyn, 1974.

#153 Fire damaged abandoned buildings in Brooklyn, 1977.

#154 On the ‘F’ Train from Coney Island to Manhattan, 1973.

#155 Manhattan Side of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, 1973.

#157 Three Young Girls on Bond Street in Brooklyn, 1974.

#159 Fireman Attending a Fire in Abandoned Tenement Building in Brooklyn, 1977.

#160 Brownstone Residences in Park Slope, Brooklyn, 1974.

#161 Shooting Gallery at Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1973.

#162 Fireman Attending a Fire in Abandoned Tenement Building in Brooklyn, 1977.

#163 View from Under Elevated Train Tracks at Bushwick Avenue, Brooklyn, 1974.

#165 Two Women on the Beach at Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1973.

#166 Apartment House Across from Fort Green Park, Brooklyn, 1974.

#167 School Children Heading Home from Dairy Day in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 1973.

#168 Well-Cared-For Gardens on 3rd Street Near Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 1973.

#169 Lifeguards on the Beach at Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1973.

#172 Manhattan Side of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, 1973.

#173 Three Young Girls on Bond Street in Brooklyn, 1974.

#174 Apartment House Across from Fort Green Park, Brooklyn, 1974.

#175 Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges from the Marine and Aviation Terminal, 1973.

#176 Fire Set by Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute to Test Wires and Insulation, 1974.

#178 Folk Singing and Dancing Near Brooklyn Bridge, 1973.

#179 Visitors at South Street Seaport Pier, Opposite Shore is Brooklyn, 1973.

#181 Folk Singing and Dancing Near Brooklyn Bridge, 1973.

#183 Brownsville View from Sutter Ave Stop on the L Line, Brooklyn, 1978.

#184 WTC from Subway Stop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 1977.

#185 Church of Jesus Christ at 2017 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, 1977.

#186 Gethsemane Baptist Church at 2097 Fulton St, Brooklyn, 1977.

#188 Commodore Theater, Broadway at Rodney, Brooklyn, 1970.

Written by Makayla White

An amateur content creator and dreamer. I Run, Cycle, Swim, Dance and drink a lot of Coffee.

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