The Rise and Fall of Crime in New York City: A Timeline

The Warriors
This week's feature story, The Tragedy of Louis Scarcella, explores the context of the now-infamous Brooklyn detective's career. It explained how the culture of policing changed over the years in response to the city's rising crime rate. Crime, in many ways, shaped the modern history of New York City.

And so here is a timeline chronicling the rise and the fall of crime in New York City:

See also this week's feature story: The Tragedy of Louis Scarcella

Thumbnail image for scarcella-cover.jpg
Photo illustation by Tom Carlson

February 1960: U.S. unemployment rate is 4.8 percent.

1963: there are 548 murders in New York City.

1964: New York City hosts the World's Fair, dedicated to "Man's Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe."

1967: 746 murders.

1968: At a crime conference, the Manhattan Borough President, the Bronx Borough President, and the Brooklyn District Attorney declare that police corruption helped spark the rising crime rate. "It is senseless to believe youngsters do not see this or to expect that it will create in them a respect for the law," said Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton.

1969: 1,043 murders.

April 1970: Officer Frank Serpico details NYPD corruption for a New York Times expose. "Graft Paid to Police Here Said to Run into Millions," reads the A-1 headline.

October 1970: Mayor John Lindsay names Patrick Murphy NYPD police commissioner.

December 1972: Lindsay's Knapp Commission issues its final report on police corruption and suggested reforms.

1972: 1,691 murders.

1974: NYPD ends overnight subway patrols in order to have more officers to combat daytime crime.

May 1975: U.S. unemployment rate is 9 percent.

1975: New York City is close to broke. Mayor Abe Beame's staff drafts a statement announcing that the city is defaulting on $100 million in loans. The city's lawyer files a bankruptcy petition at the State Supreme Court. At the last moment, officials avoid bankruptcy by agreeing to deep budget cuts.

1977: David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz murders six and injures seven more over a 13-month span.

July 1977: Blackout. Looting and fires. More than 3,700 arrests. More than $300 million cost to the city. Post cover the next day reads, "24 Hours of Terror."

May 1979: Six-year-old Etan Patz goes missing during a walk to the bus stop in SoHo. Becomes the first kid on a milk carton.

1979: There are more than 250 felonies each week in the subway system.

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Frank Vieira
Frank Vieira

Bridge and tunnel guy here since the 70's, still work in the city for the past 30 years and lived there back in the early 80's. I never felt safer then the last 10 or 15 years in the city. Only one thing is different, the city is boring now a days and over priced. All the cool people are gone. Just my two cents.

Jamie Fader
Jamie Fader

Why would the raw number of murders be reported instead of rates? The population of NYC was obviously growing at the same time, so raw numbers mean nothing at all about the rise and fall of crime.


Bring back 1980's. Party till you drop

Elaine Micki Brennan
Elaine Micki Brennan

Whoever put the header on the post did not read the rest...there were 500+ in 1963... it went to over 1,000 six years later....


Continue stop and frisk. More cameras, more regulation. If you don't like it you are hiding something.

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