At the dawn of the 1990s, New York City was in an unremittingly bleak state. Following two decades of continuous decay, 1990 brought yet another all-time record high in violent crime and to this day, 1990 and the three years that followed remain the most homicide-plagued stretch in the city’s last five decades. The 1990s had quickly positioned itself to become the city’s worst decade yet.

More: Flickr h/t: vintag.es

Yet something unprecedented occurred in the latter half of the decade: The crime rate fell by half and the murder rate by a third, with each year better than the last. By the time the decade was over, New York was a safer place than it had been at any point since the 1960s.

And it showed. By the time the 1990s ended, the city was pulling in 7 million more tourists a year while the city’s population began to grow for the first time in decades.

The 1990s in New York City was an improbable success story on a level seldom seen before. What at first looked like a new nadir for America’s biggest city instead became one of the greatest urban revitalizations in American history.

These amazing photos were taken by Steven Siegel (previously featured) that show what New York City looked like from the 1990s.














































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