The 1960s


“It was the best of times, it was the best of times. To be white, male, and healthy in New York in the 1950s was to be as blessed as any individual at any time in history. Th booming wartime economy had given way to a booming peacetime economy, fueled by full production to meet the voracious demand from buyers nourished by the innovation and choice now available in their bounteous new ‘supermarkets.’

A secretary hard at work, 1961.

One almost unbelievable statistic indicates just how the city experience its own stampede by the business community: between 1950 and 1960 more new office space was added to New York than existed in the rest of the world at the thine. In one decade that one city more than doubled the world’s available office space. And all of it went upward, transforming, for example, midtown Park Avenue from a sedate backwater of domestic brownstones into a vast glistening river of glass and steel.

While Europeans still shivered, exhausted, in their damp monochrome deprivation in the aftermath of the ruinous war, New Yorkers assumed world leadership with a cool sophistication that they’d previously granted to Paris, Rome, or London. in the excited, urgent chatter in the new air-conditioned offices, int he packed bars and increasingly worldly restaurants, in the crammed theater lobbies and fifth avenue stores there was a new confidence gained from global domination. New Yorkers basked in the health and wealth reflected back at them in the glass and chrome of their elegant, bustling streets. they revealed in their status as citizens of the busiest, noisiest, fasted growing, most advanced, most cosmopolitan, coolest, most desirable, and most photogenic city in the world.” — From ‘The Real Mad Men’ by Andrew Crackwell


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