“Ford to City: Drop Dead”
That was the headline printed on the front page of the October 30th, 1975 issue of the New York Daily News. In reality, President Gerald Ford never spoke those words, but a citizen of New York City could see that the sentiment was still there. In 1975 New York was on the brink of bankruptcy and President Ford vowed to veto any bill that would give New York the bailout it needed to stay on its feet. He likened New York’s spending to an “insidious disease.” While Ford claimed that if the city defaulted he would see that “essential public services” would continue, his top economic adviser, L. William Seidman, stated that public schooling was not on this list of essentials.
You can see why a journalist would take that as “Drop Dead.”
If you were to paint a portrait of New York in the 1970’s, it would be a portrait of a city crumbling before your very eyes: one overrun with images of poverty, crime, and corruption. Films such as Taxi Driver, Dirty Harry, Serpico, and The Warriors would show us the city from different perspectives, but each perspective was always coated in a layer of grime threatening to overtake the view. Who could blame the filmmakers? Between bankruptcy, soaring crime rates, rampant police corruption, the Son of Sam murders, and The Blackout of ’77 (which led to mass looting, vandalism, arson and approximately 3,700 people being arrested) filmmakers were projecting what they saw onto the big screen, and what they saw was the urban decay of New York. (more…)