The blasted landscape of the old West Side Highway, closed in December 1973 and finally demolished in the 1980s, epitomizes the general deterioration NYC’s infrastructure was undergoing because of, as always, lack of $$$$, throughout the era. There were rumblings in the late 1980s that the Williamsburg Bridge would have to be permanently closed, and work on the subway tracks of the Manhattan Bridge was ongoing for twenty years to repair 80 years of neglect. Parks were blasted landscapes ruled by criminals and illuminated by the few remaining park lamps through broken glass.
I could even attempt to pass this off as a photo of the West Side Highway when it was still open, as there’s a recently abandoned car in it, but that wouldn’t be honest. I do wonder if the WSH’s distinctive twin lampposts will be the Department of Transportation’s next candidate for revival, but I doubt it. They were attempts to match the stepped-back towers that were rising with frequency when the highway was built in the 1930s, but they have always been plug-ugly.
Photo: Andy Blair.