This 50-Year-Old Footage Shows What Life in New York Was Like in the 1970s

Whether or not you were alive in the 1970s, it‘s hard not to feel nostalgic while watching this 50-year-old footage of New York City. The cars, fashion, and dancing in the video perfectly capture the era.
New York City 1970s
New York City 1970s / Pythonix

Chinatown, The Rumble in the Jungle, and Skittles all celebrate their 50th anniversaries in 2024. For an idea of just how long ago the 1970s were, check out the video below. The historic footage captures what New York City and its residents looked like during the decade.

The YouTube channel Pythonix took these clips of New York in the ‘70s from The Kino Library and edited them to the 1974 song “Street Corner Symphony” by Kool & the Gang. Many of the elements that gave the city its seedy reputation at the time—the graffitied subways card, flashy cigarette ads, and burlesque shows in Times Square—take on a nostalgic charm in hindsight. The era is also distinguished by its skyline. In the video, you can see the Twin Towers under construction as well as the Pan Am building, which became the MetlLife building amid the airline’s decline in the ‘80s. 

The footage also showcases what life was like for New Yorkers five decades ago. Flared pants were on prominent display, especially in the city’s disco clubs. Before the smartphone era, younger residents entertained themselves by playing games of dice and baseball, and by opening fire hydrants on hot days.

New York City has undergone significant changes over the years, and people have been documenting them since the dawn of photography in the 19th century. To see an even older snapshot of the big apple, check out this colorized, 4K video of the city from 1911. And for a look at what the 1970s were like in a different part of the country, here’s 50-year-old footage taken in a high school in Bloomfield, Michigan.