In 1975 New York was in the middle of a huge fiscal crises. Years of mismanagement had left the city close to bankruptcy. President Ford angered New Yorkers by refusing to grant the city a federal bailout, prompting the famous headline "Ford to City: Drop Dead".
NY was infamous for its high crime rates. Times Square was full of pimps and hookers, and Central Park was the site of rapes and muggings. It was the New York of Taxi Driver and Dog Day Afternoon.
At the same time the city was at its most creative. 1975 saw the birth of punk and new wave, with bands like Blondie, Talking Heads, Suicide, and the Ramones playing their earliest shows at the legendary CBGBs.
Disco, which had grown out of gay culture a few years earlier, was at it's most exciting, and graffiti covered subway trains started emerging from the South Bronx as DJ Cool Herc and Afrika Bambaata were inventing Hip Hop.