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New York City in the 1960s: Amazing Vintage Photos of Streets, Landmarks and Everyday Life

Life in New York City during the 1960s was vibrant and full of energy. The decade was marked by significant social change, with the civil rights movement, anti-war protests, and a growing counterculture. The population of New York City was diverse, with people from various backgrounds living and working together.

The decade saw a rise in youth culture. Young people, inspired by the music, fashion, and social movements of the time, began to shape the city’s cultural landscape.

Famous Places and Landmarks

Times Square continued to be a major attraction in the 1960s. Known for its bright lights and bustling atmosphere, it was a hub of entertainment and commerce. Theaters in Times Square showed popular Broadway musicals like “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Hello, Dolly!” which drew large audiences.

Central Park remained a beloved retreat for city dwellers. It was a place for relaxation and recreation, offering a green oasis amidst the urban environment. The park hosted concerts and events, making it a cultural center within the city.

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The Empire State Building, completed in 1931, continued to be a symbol of New York City. As one of the tallest buildings in the world at the time, it attracted tourists from all over. The observation deck provided stunning views of the city skyline.

Economy and Industry

The economy of New York City in the 1960s was diverse and robust. The city was a major center for finance, commerce, and industry. Wall Street was the heart of the financial district, with the New York Stock Exchange playing a crucial role in the global economy.

Manufacturing remained an important industry, although it began to decline in this decade. The garment industry faced challenges as production moved to other regions. Despite this, New York City remained a fashion capital, with designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Halston making their mark.

Advertising was a booming industry in the 1960s. Madison Avenue became synonymous with the advertising world, where agencies created iconic campaigns that defined the era. This period was captured in the television series “Mad Men,” which depicted the life and work of advertising professionals in New York.

Construction and Infrastructure

The 1960s saw significant construction and infrastructure development in New York City. One of the most notable projects was the construction of the World Trade Center, which began in 1966. The twin towers would eventually become iconic landmarks, symbolizing the city’s economic power.

Another important construction project was the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, completed in 1964. It connected Staten Island and Brooklyn, becoming the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time. This bridge improved transportation and facilitated commerce in the region.

Public housing projects continued to expand in the 1960s. The New York City Housing Authority built several developments to address the housing needs of low-income residents. These projects aimed to provide affordable housing and improve living conditions in the city.

Restaurants and Food

The culinary scene in New York City during the 1960s was diverse and exciting. The city offered a wide range of dining experiences, from fine dining restaurants to casual eateries. One of the most famous restaurants of the era was The Four Seasons, known for its luxurious atmosphere and high-quality cuisine.

Italian restaurants were popular, with neighborhoods like Little Italy offering authentic dishes like pasta, pizza, and seafood. Delmonico’s, an iconic steakhouse, continued to be a favorite dining destination, known for its prime steaks and elegant setting.

Jewish delis, such as Katz’s Delicatessen, remained popular, serving classic dishes like pastrami sandwiches and matzo ball soup. These delis were beloved by locals and visitors alike, offering hearty and flavorful meals.

Ethnic cuisine also thrived in the 1960s. Chinatown was home to numerous Chinese restaurants, where people could enjoy dishes like Peking duck and dim sum. Harlem was known for its soul food restaurants, serving comfort foods like fried chicken, collard greens, and cornbread.

Street food was an integral part of New York City’s food culture. Hot dog stands, pretzel carts, and ice cream trucks were common sights, offering quick and affordable snacks to people on the go. Nathan’s Famous in Coney Island continued to be a favorite destination for hot dogs and other treats.

Entertainment and Leisure

Entertainment was a major part of life in New York City during the 1960s. Broadway was at its peak, with musicals and plays drawing large audiences. Shows like “Hair” and “Cabaret” became classics, showcasing the city’s rich theatrical tradition.

Movies were incredibly popular, and New Yorkers flocked to grand movie palaces to see the latest films. The 1960s saw the rise of Hollywood, and New York City was a major center for film premieres and events.

Jazz music continued to thrive in the city’s nightclubs and bars. Harlem was a cultural hotspot, with venues like the Apollo Theater showcasing legendary performers such as Aretha Franklin and James Brown. Jazz clubs downtown also attracted music lovers, with artists like John Coltrane and Miles Davis pioneering new sounds.

Rock and roll emerged as a dominant musical genre in the 1960s. Bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones performed in New York City, drawing huge crowds. The city’s music scene was vibrant and diverse, reflecting the changing tastes and influences of the era.

Television became a central part of American culture in the 1960s. Families gathered around their TV sets to watch popular shows, and New York City was at the heart of the television industry. Shows like “The Tonight Show” and “The Ed Sullivan Show” were filmed in the city, making it a major center for broadcasting.

Social Issues and Reforms

The civil rights movement gained momentum, with African Americans advocating for equal rights and opportunities. The city saw numerous protests and demonstrations, as activists fought against segregation and discrimination.

Labor unions continued to play a crucial role in the city’s social landscape. Workers organized to demand better wages, working conditions, and rights. Strikes and labor actions were common, as workers sought to improve their lives and secure fair treatment.

The women’s liberation movement also gained traction in the 1960s. Women in New York City organized to demand equal rights, better job opportunities, and reproductive rights. The city became a center for feminist activism, with organizations like the National Organization for Women (NOW) playing a key role.

Health and Public Services

Public health saw improvements during the 1960s. The city made efforts to combat diseases like tuberculosis and polio, leading to better sanitation and public health measures. Vaccination programs were implemented to protect children from polio, and public awareness campaigns promoted hygiene and preventive care.

The city also expanded its fire and police services. The fire department modernized its equipment and training, making it more effective in responding to emergencies. The police department continued to professionalize, with efforts to reduce corruption and improve public safety.

Education was a priority in New York City during the 1960s. Public schools expanded, providing more children with access to education. Efforts were made to improve school facilities and hire qualified teachers, ensuring that children received a quality education.

Higher education institutions also grew during this period. Columbia University and New York University expanded their campuses and programs, attracting students from around the country and the world. These institutions played a crucial role in the intellectual and cultural life of the city.

Fashion and Lifestyle

Fashion in the 1960s reflected the social changes and cultural influences of the era. Women’s fashion featured bold colors, mini skirts, and mod styles, influenced by designers like Mary Quant. Men’s fashion included tailored suits, casual wear, and the iconic leather jackets popularized by rock and roll stars.

The lifestyle of New Yorkers in the 1960s was characterized by a mix of traditional values and modern innovations. Family life centered around the home, with television and household appliances becoming integral parts of daily life. Social activities, entertainment, and cultural pursuits provided much-needed diversions from the challenges of the era.

#1 877 Southern Boulevard – Tiffany Street, Bronx, 1960s

#2 Mounds of snow partly bury cars on an unplowed street in The Bronx, during a blizzard in 1961

#3 Firefighters evacuate passengers from a derailed IRT Subway train near the 138th Street station in The Bronx, 1961

#4 The Braniff Airways Space Ship attraction at Freedomland USA theme park in The Bronx, in 1961, features a Fritos snack cart serving visitors.

#5 A railroad bridge and parking lots mark the end of Park Avenue in the Fordham Manor neighborhood of The Bronx, 1965.

#6 Construction workers wearing hard hats wait by two cars on land cleared for construction in The Bronx, 1965.

#7 The Bronx Veterans Hospital and Fordham Hill Apartments overlook the Harlem River with Marble Hill station in the foreground in The Bronx, 1965.

#8 Early morning traffic creates streaks of light along the Cross Bronx Expressway in The Bronx, 1965.

#9 A woman and two small children cross the road at the Bronx-end of Park Avenue, 1967.

#10 A lawn with a walkway outside a housing project in The Bronx, 1968.

#11 Caucasian and African American children play on a swing set at a housing project in The Bronx, 1968.

#12 A lawn with trees outside a housing project in The Bronx, 1968.

#13 The Isley Brothers perform at the first Soul Brothers Summer Music Festival at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, 1969.

#14 Pedestrians beside parked cars on Park Avenue in The Bronx, 1967

#15 School playground (PS 122), Kingsbridge Rd. and Bailey Ave., Bronx, 1960s

#20 Findlay Avenue – East 167th Street, Bronx, 1960s

#21 1804 Harrison Avenue – Tremont Avenue, Bronx, 1960s

#23 General Charles de Gaulle at N.Y. City Hall, 1960s

#24 Sunbathers at Beach Captured from High Angle, Brooklyn, 1962

#25 Brooklyn Waterfront Standstill Due to Anthony Anastasio’s Death, 1963

#27 School Boycott Pickets March Across Brooklyn Bridge

#28 Brooklyn Street Corner After Harlem Police Shooting, 1964

#29 Aerial View of Brooklyn Navy Yard, Ordered Closed

#31 Official Motorcade Crosses Verrazano Narrows Bridge, 1960s

#33 Flatbush Avenue Toward Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, 1965

#35 Ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge Under Construction, 1965

#36 Traffic Along Flatbush Avenue, Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, 1965

#37 Local Residents Jeer at NYPD Patrol Car in Brownsville, 1965

#41 Marquee for Murray The K’s Easter Show at Brooklyn Fox Theater, 1965

#42 Crowd During a Political Rally Outside Nathan’s Famous, 1965

#43 Main Entrance to Steeplechase Park at Coney Island, 1965

#44 Brooklyn Crowd Awaits President Lyndon Johnson, 1966

#47 Steve Whitaker and Bill Robinson Visit Children in Brooklyn, 1967

#48 Pedestrians in Front of World in Wax Musee, Coney Island, 1968

#49 Pedestrians in front of World in Wax Musee at Coney Island advertising exhibits like Richard Speck and Nat King Cole, 1968.

#50 Men posing for a photo on a crowded Coney Island Beach, Brooklyn, 1968.

#51 Mounted police officers stand in front of an Army and Navy recruiting station at Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1968.

#52 Contestants gather around the ‘Machine Guns’ arcade at Coney Island, Brooklyn, 1968.

#53 Passengers waiting at the upper-level entrance to the Long Island Rail Road at Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, 1968.

#54 Leslie Campbell (Jitu Weusi) and demonstrators block the front steps of JHS 271, Brooklyn.

#55 Vendor sells produce from his pushcart at the Belmont Avenue market, Brooklyn, 1962.

#56 Peter Udell, his wife Joan, and their children Christopher and Jennifer against the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge, 1969.

#57 Construction crane of the World Trade Center visible under the Brooklyn Bridge, 1969.

#58 Detective examines burned-out police car after a night of rioting in Brooklyn, July 1964.

#59 Opening day traffic jam on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn to Staten Island, 1964.

#60 Anna Kelter looks at damage to her store after a night of rioting in Brooklyn, July 21, 1964.

#61 Closing of pushcart market at Saratoga Avenue and Prospect Place, Brooklyn, 1962.

#62 Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Heights Branch, 1964.

#63 Chrysler New Yorker parked on a salt-covered street in Brooklyn, 1960s.

#66 Ocean Avenue Between K and L Avenues, Brooklyn, 1964

#67 Intersection of Thatford Avenue and Riverdale Avenue, Brooklyn, 1964

#68 Intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Parkside Avenue, Brooklyn, 1964

#69 Intersection of Hanson Place and Ashland Place, Brooklyn, 1964

#70 Intersection of Henry Street and Clark Street, Brooklyn, 1964

#71 Young Street Racers on Third Avenue, Brooklyn, 1968

#72 Diverse Restaurants on Avenue P and East Second Street, 1960

#74 O’Neals Saloon Near Lincoln Center, Manhattan, 1967

#75 Cinema-Goers Line Up Outside the Victoria Theatre in Times Square, Manhattan, 1967

#76 Construction on North Tower of the original World Trade Center, Manhattan, 1969

#77 Distorted View of Traffic and Pedestrians on 42nd Street, Manhattan, 1962

#78 Traffic on Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan, 1962

#79 Vehicle Traffic Along 5th Avenue at West 43rd Street, Manhattan, 1963

#80 Man Paints a Portrait of a Woman at Art Fair in Washington Square Park, Manhattan, 1965

#81 View of Businesses at the Corner of 7th Avenue and 42nd Street in Times Square, Manhattan, 1967

#82 Twin Towers of the World Trade Center Under Construction, Manhattan, 1968

#83 Elevated View of Taxis in Front of the United Nations Headquarters, Manhattan, 1967

#84 Two Men Wait to Cross at West 43rd Street and Broadway, Times Square, Manhattan, 1963

#85 Exterior Shot of Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum on 42nd Street, Times Square, Manhattan, 1963

#86 Crowd for John Glenn’s Ticker Tape Parade Along Broadway’s Canyon of Heroes, Manhattan, 1962

#87 NYPD Police Officers Patrol Crowds During Gordon Cooper’s Ticker Tape Parade, Manhattan, 1963

#88 NYPD Police Officers Patrol Crowds During Gordon Cooper’s Ticker Tape Parade, Manhattan, 1963

#89 People Walk Along 6th Avenue After Gordon Cooper’s Ticker Tape Parade, Manhattan, 1963

#90 Crowd Gathered in Front of the New York Coliseum in Columbus Circle, Manhattan, 1963

#92 Crowd on 6th Avenue for Gordon Cooper’s Ticker Tape Parade, Manhattan, 1963

#93 Construction of the Sperry Rand Building at Rockefeller Center, Manhattan, 1961

#94 Hebrew National Hot Dog Billboard and Clothesline, Lower Manhattan, 1960

#95 Billboard for Movie “The Bible” in Times Square, Manhattan, 1966

#96 Pedestrians Outside Rockefeller Center, Manhattan, 1969

#98 Pedestrians at the Intersection of Broadway & 7th Avenue, Times Square, Manhattan, 1960

#99 Storefronts and a Volkswagen Bus in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, 1965

#104 Intersection in Midtown Manhattan During Rush Hour, 1966

#105 View of the Empire State Building from 5th Avenue, Manhattan, 1962

#106 Third Avenue Manhattan Street Scene, Traffic and New Skyscraper Construction, Manhattan, 1960

#107 Pedestrians and Shoppers on 5th Avenue, Manhattan, 1962

#108 Street Scene in Chinatown, Lower Manhattan, Manhattan, 1965

#109 Chinese Lions in Chinese New Year Celebrations, Chinatown, Manhattan, 1960

#110 Manhattan Skyline Across East River from Brooklyn, Manhattan, 1960

#111 Signs and Flags on Broadway Near Lincoln Center Under Construction, Manhattan, 1960

#112 Times Square at Night on Broadway at 45th Street, Manhattan, 1966

#113 Street Scene on 101st Street, Spanish Harlem, Manhattan, 1967

#114 Street Scene at 42nd Street & Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, 1961

#119 Street Scene, Park Avenue and Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan, 1961

#121 Crowd Outside Booth Theater at Night, Manhattan, 1961

#123 Junction of East 31st Street and Third Avenue, Manhattan, 1962

#124 Summertime visitors walk by the entrance of the New York City Pavilion Building in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, 1967

#125 A Number 7 Flushing Line Elevated Train consisting of “Redbird” cars arrives at Queensboro Plaza Station, 1960s.

#126 Cars at the toll booth of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, 1960s.

#127 A bird’s-eye view of pavilions and exhibits at the New York World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, 1964.

#128 A panoramic aerial view from the New York State Pavilion observation towers at the New York World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows Park, 1964.

#129 A panoramic aerial view from the New York State Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows-Corona, Queens, 1964.

#130 Two young boys sit on the edge of a circular counter inside the New York State Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows Park, 1964.

#131 A bird’s-eye view from a Swiss Sky Ride gondola of the Switzerland Pavilion’s Le Chalet Restaurant at the New York World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows Park, 1964.

#132 People walk near the Astral Fountain and the New York State Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows Park, 1964.

#133 Residential and commercial buildings at the intersection of 108th Street and 37th Avenue, Corona, Queens, 1960.

#134 The Howard Johnson’s restaurant on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park, Queens, 1960.

#136 Men talk in the PS 143 schoolyard in Corona, Queens, 1963.

#137 Vehicle traffic leaving the parking lot for Alexander’s department store in Rego Park, Queens, 1963.

#138 Construction of new exit and entrance ramps for Municipal Stadium on the Grand Central Parkway, Queens, 1963.

#139 Construction underway on Municipal Stadium at Flushing Meadows (later named Shea Stadium) in Corona, Queens, 1963.

#140 Junkyard on Willets Point Boulevard in Queens’ Corona neighborhood with the Municipal Stadium under construction in the background, 1963.

#141 Construction underway on the Municipal Stadium at Flushing Meadows (later named Shea Stadium) in the Corona neighborhood, Queens, 1963.

#142 Bird’s-eye view of pavilions and exhibits at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, 1964.

#143 Residential and commercial buildings along 108th Street in the Corona neighborhood, Queens, 1964.

#144 Exterior shot of the Queens Restaurant (featuring ‘International Foods’) in Corona, Queens, 1966.

#145 Snow-covered parked cars along the Horace Harding Expressway in Rego Park, Queens, 1967.

#146 The former New York World’s Fairgrounds in Flushing Meadows, Queens, with attractions from the 1964-1965 Fair, 1960s.

#147 Fresh Pond Road and Putnam Avenue, Ridgewood, Queens, 1960s.

#148 Cypress Avenue and Putnam Avenue, Ridgewood, Queens, October 1969.

#149 Greenpoint Avenue and 45th Street, Sunnyside, Queens, 1969.

#150 Greenpoint Avenue off 45th Street, Sunnyside, Queens, 1969.

#151 34th Street and 30th Avenue, Astoria, Queens, 1960s.

#152 Another view of 30th Avenue and 42nd Street in Astoria, Astoria, Queens, 1968.

#153 Myrtle Avenue and 68th Street, Glendale, Queens, 1960s.

#154 63rd Drive and Booth Street, Rego Park, Queens, 1960s.

#155 Flushing Avenue off 61st Street; Trolleybus, Maspeth, Queens, 1960.

#156 34th Street and 30th Avenue, Astoria, Queens, 1960s.

#157 63rd Drive and Wetherole Street, Rego Park, Queens, 1969.

#158 Another view of Greenpoint Avenue and 45th Street, Sunnyside, Queens, 1969.

#159 Fresh Pond Road and Putnam Avenue,Ridgewood, Queens, 1969.

#160 84th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, Jackson Heights, 1960s.

#161 Myrtle Avenue and 68th Street, Glendale, Queens, 1969

#162 Steinway Street and 30th Avenue, Astoria, Queens, 1960s.

#163 74th Street and 37th Road, Jackson Heights, Queens, 1960s.

#164 Grand Avenue and 71st Street, Maspeth, Queens, 1960s.

#165 94th Street and 37th Avenue with a view of the Polk Theater, Jackson Heights, Queens, 1964.

#166 Astoria Boulevard and 85th Street, East Elmhurst, Queens, May 1961.

#167 Jamaica Avenue toward Woodhaven Boulevard, Woodhhaven, Queens, 1960

#168 Jamaica Avenue and 92nd Street,Woodhhaven, Queens 1963.

#169 Jamaica Avenue toward 91st Street, Woodhhaven, Queens 1963.

#170 Northern Boulevard and 89th Street, Jackson Heights, Queens, 1960s.

#171 Main Street and 72nd Avenue, Flushing, Queens, 1960s.

#172 Alternate View of Northern Boulevard and 89th Street, Jackson Heights, Queens, 1960s.

#173 60th Drive and Fresh Pond Road, Maspeth, Queens, 1960s.

#174 Billboard for NorthCool, KORAY SUIT on Victory Boulevard, 1960s.

#175 Bogardus Corners in Sandy Ground, Destroyed During the Brush Fire, 1963

#177 Ferryboat Irvington Used on Line from Tottenville to Perth Amboy, Ceased Operation in 1963

#178 Traffic Enters the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge on the Day after Opening, 1964.

#181 Traffic congestion at Rockland Avenue and Richmond Road in Egbertville, 1969.

#182 View of Amboy Road at the corner of Giffords Lane in Great Kills, 1960.

#183 Intersection of Page Avenue and Richmond Valley Road near the former Nassau Smelting and Refining Co., 1968.

#184 The Transit Authority Selects Wide Intersection in Brooklyn for Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Buses; Commuting Time Estimated at One Hour from Concord to Times Square, 1964.

#185 Snowcroft’s Pharmacy, Amboy Road in Pleasant Plains, 1960s.

#186 Store Located at Forest Avenue and Grandview Avenue in Mariners Harbor, Late 1960s.

#187 Cars in the Parking Lot at Waldbaum’s, Castleton Corners, Staten Island, 1965.

#188 Advertisement for Staten Island’s Weissglass-Gold Seal Dairy in Front of IS 51, 1961.

#189 Tina’s Diner, a Favorite All-Night Place to Eat at Victory Boulevard at Jewett Avenue, Circa 1960.

#190 Rush-Hour Crowds Check into the South Ferry Terminal, 1965.

#192 Tractor Trailer and Cars Marooned in Snow on Narrows Road South, 1967.

#193 Staten Island Side, Toll Plaza of Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, 1964.

#195 Notre Dame College, The Cardinal Spellman Library, St. John’s University, 1960s

#198 Push to Complete Bridge and Staten Island Expressway, May 1964.

#199 Paramount in Stapleton, Circa 1962; Films and Bands Played at the Iconic Theater, 1962.

#200 Typical views of congested, narrow Richmond Avenue, 1969.

#203 Passenger cars converge on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge toll plaza, 1966.

#204 Bay Street trestle in Clifton advertising Kurly’s Restaurant, 1969.

#205 The Ritz, Largest Theater on Staten Island, Home to Vaudeville Shows and Movies, Closed in 1968.

#206 The Britton Cottage Moves to Richmondtown, One of Staten Island’s Oldest Colonial Structures, 1965.

#207 Winter Storm Causes Flooding on Goodall Street, Great Kills, 1966.

#208 A Last-Minute Rush for Plates Causes Traffic Tie-Up at the Motor Vehicle Office on St. Marks Place, St. George, 1969.

#209 Aerial View of NY Skyline; Madison Square Garden under Construction, 1967.

#210 Canal Street, Stapleton Decorated for Christmas, December 1968

#211 Students and teachers at Curtis High School used the athletic field to park, 1966.

#212 Another of Frank J. Johns’s Original East Shore in Clifton, 1961.

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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