In under a month’s time, I will cross the perilous Rubicon of my 49th year. It should come as little surprise to learn that I am not at all enthused about this particular milestone. I expect that I shall enter into my 49th year burdened by the same amount of neuroses and anxiety with which I entered my 29th … preoccupied by the stark reality that, it being my last year of that particular group of ten, I’ll need to “make it count.” Inevitably, by the time I turn 50, I’ll probably just be resigned to it …. not that it makes a big difference or that I can actually do anything about it.
But one’s twenties were the years that really "counted," in that respect. That was the era wherein one was supposed to sew their wild outs, experiment, live vicariously and experience all that could be experienced. The forties aren’t like that. Honestly, I’m not sure what is supposed to really transpire in one’s forties … a refinement? A mellowing? A gradual metamorphosis into something more distinguished (or, alternately, more wizened)? I can’t say. I’m not sure if I accomplished all the things I was supposed to accomplish throughout my forties. It’s certainly been a fraught almost-decade for me. John Lennon once famously said that “Life Begins at 40.” Yeah, look what happened to him.
Anyway, while searching for something totally different, I found this enchanting little filmstrip of New York City in 1967, the year of my birth. Hearkening back to that recent post about photographs from my childhood, it’s somewhat striking to look at this banal stock footage and realize how much looks relatively the same. For all the grousing so many of us do about how things have changed — invariably for the worse — it’s worth remarking how recognizable so much of this still is.
There are some major exceptions, of course. The first incarnation of World Trade Center, for example, hadn’t even been built yet. Shots of the downtown skyline arrive without those signature towers.
But scattered amidst the nine plus minutes you’ll see the 59th & Fifth Avenue, the Pan Am Building, the observation deck of the Empire State, Van Cortlandt House in the Bronx, Wall Street, Trinity Church, Fraunces Tavern, City Hall, Gramercy Park, the National Arts Club, Irving Place, Cooper Square, St. Mark’s Church, Washington Square Park, Liberty Island and more.
49 years ago...