More than a generation later, the disappearance of Etan Patz is still very fresh in the minds and hearts of SoHo residents, as many them were living in the neighborhood when the boy disappeared. Borough reporter Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.
On a sunny Thursday morning, SoHo residents were flung back to a dark time in their neighborhood's history -- the day in 1979 when six-year-old Etan Patz disappeared.
They watched NYPD and FBI crews working in the basement of 127 Prince Street, looking for Patz' remains.
"People used to say where is Etan and that was the biggest question and still, to this day, people are asking that question," said neighbor James Christie.
There was no visible movement in the Patz apartment, just a half-block east of the dig site. Neighbors remembered Etan's parents' desperation and incredible resolve.
"I was amazed, that every lamppost had a poster of this kid was incredible. There were thousands put out," said neighbor Sean Sweeney.
SoHo was a different scene in the late 1970s. Before the shops and restaurants came in, it was just a neighborhood where residents felt each others' pain and fear.
"This was a very horrible time. I was raising my daughter also when these things were going on and of course it was very frightening because I was only worried about being safe and having my family safe," said neighbor Pamela Nelkin.
Sad as Etan Patz's story was or may turn out to be, residents said they were encouraged by law enforcement's commitment to closing this long-cold case.
"What's enlightening is the fact it's not forgotten about. It's been 30 years and obviously there are a lot of people still working on it which is pretty nice to know," said neighbor Neal Edelson.
"You know something? It's never a cold case. If it's a kid missing, you've got to do everything you can, no matter how long it takes," said a local.
Some residents told NY1 the disappearance was shocking back in 1979, and that they hoped the investigation would yield useful information and ultimately some closure for a family that has waited too long for answers.