Streets of New York

Streets of New York

Ratings: 6.99/10 from 71 users.

Nowhere in America do poverty and wealth exist so closely to one another as in New York City. Even from the darkest corners of Brooklyn, one need only look up and across the East River to see the great temples of Wall Street wealth looming over the night. Since the birth of the city, New York's poorest residents, whether Irish, Jewish, black, or Puerto Rican, have made their own gold from the streets of the city. Sometimes the elements of crime were needed to harvest this gold.

But as the violence slowly spread toward the rich and powerful, the apparatus of control, the police and the government, swung into action and, miracle of miracles, New York, the rotten apple, became the safest big city in America... or that's the official story. In New York City, 1970, heroin was the king. Teenage gangs terrorized the streets of Brooklyn and Bronx, and mafia leader Joe Colombo decided to fight the government, not in the street but on television. Colombo's crime family was locked in a war with crazy Joey Gallo. Gallo had aligned himself with black gangsters from Brooklyn while serving time in prison.

The speculation that Joey Gallo was behind the black assassin of Joe Colombo was never proven, but it certainly showed how crime and drugs could unite the gangster tribes of New York across racial lines. A flood of cheap heroine washed over the city courtesy of the Italian Mafia and the police department was so notoriously corrupt that the Knapp Commission was set up to investigate the widespread bribery that organized crime used to insulate themselves from the law.

Puerto Ricans had been granted U.S. citizenship in 1917 and after the war they became the largest group coming into New York. By the mid '60s the South Bronx was in a state of economic freefall. Every study that has been made indicated that the Puerto Ricans live in the worst conditions of slum housing, have the worst jobs, have the lowest educational attainment, and by every index of health and poverty were suffering to a greater extent than any other group. Heroin ravaged the population and gangs made up of unemployed poverty stricken teenagers ruled the streets.

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c. curzio
6 years ago


Heroin has been aroiund a long time. My uncle died in 195 OD7. Yes the Mafia was knee deep in the shit.

Bilbo Bagginski
7 years ago

@ Greg
Typical Yankee bullshit? The f*ck do you know about NYC? Heroin was in NYC before Vietnam war... shows how much you know.

7 years ago

Because the Clintons bought in Harlem and that attracted young white college preppie folks

7 years ago

The heroin never came from the damn mafia, it came from the Vietnam war hidden inside dead gi bodies and coffins. Misdirection yet again from people who have no idea, completely and typically Yankee bullshit

Eric Lawson
9 years ago

Good Doc!!

10 years ago

great doc! I thought this was going to be another one of those docs you see that just discusses a single gang, but I think this doc went into great depth on various elements of gang/organized crime in regard to the 1970's to today in NYC.

Jacek Walker
10 years ago

I lived and worked in NYC a couple of years ago and I remember the same empty, shallow faces of teenagers as on this old vid clips. So not much has changed really...
Indifference mixed with aggression.

Harry Nutzack
10 years ago

i grew up in NYC, and lived there for the majority of the time shown in this doc. decently done, but it also demonstrates "bravado embellishment" from the "contributors of lore" from 70s into the early 80s. the role of "color wearing gangs" is outrageously overblown. if you include the 1%er bikers, there were less than a half dozen actual "gangs" in NYC by 74, with most criminality being committed by loosely affiliated groups of "running buddies" that had no fixed zone of exclusive operation, group name, or organization. you occasionally saw a group of youngsters form into a gang (colors, crew, "turf"), and they would be pretty much broken up within a few months, all doing bids, or pushing up daisies.

aside from that, well done, historically reasonably accurate doc. brought back a lot of old memories, good and bad, lol. four stars just for the footage of a world i remember

10 years ago

love this, as it shows the darker side of the capital mis-management
which reeks the system & shows the involuntary victims it creates!i
wonder why people are scared of socio-economical changes & cling on
the remnants of this clearly dying system...too dependent or
beneficiary of the rotting corpse we call democracy but that term
doesn't fit the actual status quo of the reality of current politics!i
have to state that this is my view & not an absolute,treat it as such & replying comments should show the
dignity of conversation & not end in insults,degradation of
intelligence or mis-quotations due to non-agreement.
the problem may disappear on the surface by filling prisons but it is not an end solution...when the breaking point is reached the backlash will tremble the society so severly that there will be no turning back.