The Train NYC, 1984
Brian Young took the pictures in The Train NYC, 1984, the year he moved to New York, when the city was recovering from an economic depression that began in the mid-1970s but whose eff ects were still quite visible. The loss of manufacturing followed by loss of population to suburbs led to large-scale urban decay and a decline in social services. Abandoned shells of burnt-out cars littered roadways, and muggings were a fact of daily life. The beginnings of the crack cocaine epidemic, with its coincident escalating crime, created an atmosphere of citywide malaise. Graffiti exploded and spread across the city landscape, in particular on the subway system. Although considered vandalism, graffiti's proliferation can be thought of as an act of social protest, an outcry for relief and reform, or a platform for the dispossessed. It was a bleak time; it was Gotham.