FLASH FRIDAY: Fascinating Footage Showing The Glamour and Grime of Times Square in 1976
In the 1970s, the desperate fiscal state of New York City was summarized by the infamous 1975 Daily News headline, "Ford To City: Drop Dead."
Gotham was still a grimy old town in those days and the center of it all was Times Square, where playgoers excited to take in the latest Broadway hits passed by countless streetwalkers, porno shops, 3-card monte dealers and pickpockets before reaching their seats. Theatre district nightlife fizzled away because people were warned not to stay in the area after the curtain falls.
But still, the city had its certain charm in those days. It wasn't always pretty but if you could keep a sense of humor you could survive anything New York threw at you.
Serena Sharp and Jenny Coan of Kinolibrary, a company that provides clients with archival footage, recently posted the video below on YouTube, showing nearly twenty minutes of home movies from 1976. There's a great deal of footage of special interest to theatre fans, including shots of great old theatres of 42nd Street then transformed into porno movie houses. At 1:05 there's the crowd getting ready to see Doug Henning in THE MAGIC SHOW. At 8:28 there are shots outside of THE WIZ, MY FAIR LADY and A CHORUS LINE. At the end you can see Times Square on New Year's Eve.
There are also standard touristy looks at places like Central Park, the Guggenheim, Rockefeller Center and Yankee Stadium, but the video seems to keep coming back to Times Square, giving a great sense of the crazy cacophony of the city forty years ago.