Part 6 - Post-War

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Part 6 of New York City's Mundane Historical Timeline.

Continued from: Part 5 - Early 20th Century

Skip to: Part 7 - Modern Era

Post-World War II: 1945-1977

Garment District NYC ca1950s.jpg

  • 1946 With much of Europe recovering from World War II, New York City inherited the role of Paris as center of the art world with Abstract Expressionism, and became a rival to London as an art market.
  • 1947-1952 At the end of WW II, a lot of the big cities were in ruins and many countries rebuilding allowing New York to gain global prominence and so it became the Headquarters for the United Nations.
  • November 15, 1948 marked a significant turning point in the city's economy, when the Interstate Commerce Commission began allowing barges to charge fees for transporting goods from rail terminals in New Jersey to piers in Manhattan. This led to the decline of the port, the piers, and places such as Washington Market in Lower Manhattan.
  • 1950 New York City sees its population decline due to suburbanization of the New York metropolitan area as returning GIs start families and move into the developing suburbs in the outer boroughs where minority populations were not so prevalent. The city began to feel the effects of this white flight to the suburbs.
  • 1950 Post-war New York City sees a downturn in industry and commerce as businesses left for places where it was cheaper and easier to operate. The period is also marked by an increase in crime and an upturn in its welfare burden as the economy begins to shift from industrial to service-based.
  • 1950s Beatnik movement arrives in the Lower East Side in an area that will later be dubbed the East Village.
  • 1950-1957 Midtown Manhattan was experiencing an unprecedented building boom, fueled by postwar prosperity. This led to a drastic change in the appearance of Midtown, where bland office towers in the new International Style began to replace the ziggurat-style towers of the postwar era.
  • 1957 As a sign of the city’s waning competitiveness, it lost both its National League baseball teams to booming California; the Dodgers and the Giants both moved after the 1957 season.
  • 1955-1960s Also rapidly changing was the eastern edge of the East Village close to the FDR Drive. Large-scale public housing projects supplanted many traditional apartment blocks.
  • 1960 Urban renewal began to take shape in Lower Manhattan, led by David Rockefeller with construction of his One Chase Manhattan Plaza building.
  • 1960-1966 Art and music flourished in Lower East Side neighborhoods and hippies gravitated to the neighborhood. Wanting to distinguish the area from the public housing projects and slums, the hippies dubbed the artistic enclave the East Village and real estate investors helped promote the name.
  • 1960s Robert Moses proposes and builds a network of highways to handle the increased traffic congestion from the suburbs.
  • 1962 The void left in baseball was filled by the formation of the Mets who played their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds.
  • 1962 Plans for the Lower Manhattan Expressway are defeated by an effort of community activists led by Jane Jacobs. This was an indication that planners and builders like Robert Moses would no longer have free reign over the city’s landscape and that the public had interest in historical and architectural preservation.
  • 1964 The Mets move to Shea Stadium in Queens.
  • 1964 New York hosts the 1964 World's Fair.
  • 1965 After the old Beaux Arts Pennsylvania Station complex was torn down, growing public concern over the preservation of New York City architecture reached its zenith. This led to the Landmarks Preservation Commission Law.
  • On November 9, 1965 New York endured a widespread power blackout along with much of eastern North America.
  • 1965 Manufacturing declined, and the advent of container shipping shifted much maritime trade to New Jersey, which, unlike New York City, had space to accommodate large stacks of containers.
  • 1965 The passage of the federal Immigration Act of 1965, which abolished national-origin quotas, set the stage for increased immigration from Asia, which became the basis for the New York's modern Asian American community.
  • January 1, 1966 The Transport Workers Union of America (TWU) led by Mike Quill shut down the city with a complete halt of subway and bus service on mayor John Lindsay's first day of office. Transit strike ends on the 13th of January.
  • 1966 The US Navy decommissioned the Brooklyn Navy Yard, ending a command going back to the early 19th century. It was sold to the city. The Yard continued as a site for shipbuilding for another eleven years.
  • 1966 The Rotten Apple becomes a play on the nick name the Big Apple as economic conditions in the city worsen with the loss of shipping and manufacturing centers. Urban decay and blight continue as city tries to find new direction for its economy. Adult entertainment sites began to fill the Times Square district and remained until redevelopment of the area in the mid-1990s.

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  • 1968 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis leads an effort to save Grand Central from demolition. The station is preserved and remains one of the architectural gems of the city to this day.
  • 1968 More labor struggles continued as the teachers' union (the United Federation of Teachers (UFT)) went on strike over the firings of several teachers in a school in Ocean Hill-Brownsville.
  • 1968 Nine-day sanitation strike. Quality of life in New York reached a nadir during this strike, as mounds of garbage caught fire, and strong winds whirled the filth through the streets. The City was on edge with school shutdowns, police inaction, firefighters threatening to walk out, garbage filling the streets, and racial and religious tensions were running high.
  • June 28, 1969 Homosexuals in Greenwich Village engage in the Stonewall riots which were a series of spontaneous and violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place at the Stonewall Inn. The event is widely regarded as the first incident in American history where the gay community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities and marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
  • 1970s US economic stagnation of the 1970s hit New York City particularly hard, as trading on the New York Stock Exchange fell while the city's welfare spending continued. City budgets and funds in peril.
  • 1970s Widely regarded as New York's nadir. The city had become notorious the world over for high rates of crime and other social disorder. This view was popularized in music, art and film as examples like Taxi Driver, Serpico, The French Connection, Dog Day Afternoon, Klute, The Warriors, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, and "American City Suite” by Terry Cashman captured the imagination of the world.
  • 1972 World Trade Center opens and is a rare highlight in an otherwise dark decade for the city. Conceived by David Rockefeller and built by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on the site of the Radio Row electronics district in Lower Manhattan, the Twin Towers briefly displaced the Empire State Building in Midtown as the world's tallest before being displaced in turn by Chicago's Sears Tower in 1973.
  • October 17, 1975 The city neared bankruptcy during the administration of Mayor Abraham Beame but avoided that fate with the aid of a large federal loan. Albert Shanker, the teachers' union president, furnished $150 million from the union's pension fund to buy Municipal Assistance Corporation bonds. Two weeks later, President Gerald R. Ford angered many New Yorkers by refusing to grant the city a bailout, a decision famously summarized by the New York Daily News headline "Ford to City: Drop Dead."
  • July 13, 1977 The New York City Blackout of 1977 lasted for 25 hours, during which the city suffered heavy looting and civil unrest. Over 3,000 people were arrested, and the city's already crowded prisons were so overburdened that some suggested reopening the Manhattan Detention Complex that had recently been condemned.
  • November 1977 By the end of the decade, most feared that the city was in an irreversible decline. Riots, crime, blackouts, and waning opportunities led to a mass exodus to the suburbs. By the end of the 1970s, nearly a million people had left, a population loss not recovered for another twenty years. The more fiscally conservative Ed Koch was elected as mayor to try and turn the city around.
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