Would You Rather?

If you could pick an era to live in NYC, would it be the 1980s or today?

By Mayra David | February 16, 2016 - 2:59PM

If we’ve heard it once, we’ve heard it a hundred times: 1980s NYC was the place to be. Artists, activists, business people and bohemians, yuppies, and yokels, all striving and thriving in the “real” New York City. But was it really that different from today? Was it really better? We asked six New Yorkers: Would you rather live in 1980s NYC or present day NYC?

  • Been there. Done that. Loved it. I’m 64 and I lived through the '80s in NYC and I can tell you: It was happening then! Things were flowing. I was living in a one-bedroom, top- floor apartment on the Upper West Side with views of the river, 800 square feet, for a couple of hundred dollars. Maybe it’s imagination, but life was more affordable then. Not just apartments, but going out, drinking and eating, wasn’t that big a deal. Don’t get me wrong, we bought our townhouse in 1995, this area is so different and good now. My wife and I are doing well. But, boy it was fun then with everything you could do and, well, let me not get caught by my wife saying that! —Clarence, Hamilton Heights
  • What he said Well, Clarence just gave me a 5-star yelp review for the '80s. That sounds pretty good. Especially the affordable apartment part. The prices have gone up exponentially, not proportionately. —Mike, Harlem
  • The gritty reality You know, I think about that sometimes because everybody says it was so great and “gritty” and “real." But honestly, I think that era is being completely romanticized. It was not that great. It was more dangerous, more druggy. More hate crimes. People are like “Greenwich Village was crawling with artists!” Yeah, maybe…but also: I’d probably have been murdered. I’d be dead now. —Josh, Harlem (pictured at left)
  • From a distance I mean, I love the '80s, but, like, from afar. The fashion was crazy, the music was amazing. Really cool stuff. New ground broken. But would or could I be sitting in a bar in Harlem at that time? Nope. Don’t cross 110th street. That’s how the song goes. Living in Bushwick? Nope. Sorry, but that’s the truth. —Lloyd, Bushwick
  • Like the movies (but not in a good way) So, when I think about the 80s in NYC, I think about drugs, and American Psycho-style mega-yuppies on Wall Street making crooked deals, and messing up everything for us now. I guess liking the '80s depends on who you would have been during that time. I’d kick ass! But no, I’d probably hate myself. I’ll stay in this era. Also, I’m a woman so I would have been sexually harassed and nobody would have given a sh**. Men were even more in charge then. —Kelly, Upper West Side
  • Idiots for NYC  The city wasn’t great in the '80s. My parents saved up and left the city the second they could afford a house in New Jersey. Now here we all are, raging idiots sacrificing basic quality of life just to live here. —Margot, Chelsea

Verdict: It's complicated.


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