“The Central Park Five”: New York’s darkest hour

If you lived in New York in 1989 – hell, if you lived in America in 1989 and were over 12 years old – then you remember the story of the Central Park jogger. It was a terrible case that seemed to epitomize everything that had gone wrong in America’s greatest city under the reigns of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the toxic combination of exploding Wall Street wealth, skyrocketing crime, the crack epidemic and worsening racial tension. This was the “Bonfire of the Vanities” New York, the “American Psycho” New York, in which newly created or reinforced classes, the super-rich and the alienated poor, faced off in nearly open warfare. The legendary power of that failing city is such that many contemporary visitors to New York still expect the Bronx to be on fire and Central Park to be an uninhabited zone of “muggers and trash,” in the words of my mother-in-law, and are startled by the affluent chain-store bustle of 21st-century Manhattan.Continue Reading…

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“The Central Park Five”: New York’s darkest hour

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