"No, in the environment of the slum, the courage to display yourself is your only capital, and crime is the productive process which converts such capital to the modern powers of the world, ego and money" (p. 31)
New York City in the mid-seventies was an dirty, ugly place. By 1973, financial woes had brought on a full-blown recession and removed any doubt from an already disenchanted population of a well-founded American dream. Plummeting economic stability stagnated employment and skyrocketed the crime rate. The drug trade thrived, vice proliferated and poverty rose all while crooked politics derailed badly needed reforms. Many thought it was the end for the Big Apple, once a harbor of hope for the newly arrived now a cesspool of filth and corruption seemingly gone to pot. Aesthetically, as civically, the city was an eyesore of eyesores. Trash in the streets and crumbling brownstones seemed to spell the atmosphere of moral ruin and decay; largely dilapidated structures attracted garbage, grime and graffiti (more than usual) to accommodate the increasingly more prevalent world of sleaze and pornography. .