20/20 Vision: Poll Finds '92 Crime Concerns Have Turned To Economic Anxiety
Over the last 20 years, NY1 has served as a window on the city for our viewers. In an exclusive NY1/Marist poll conducted last month, New Yorkers were asked many of the same questions that were posed 20 years ago on a range of topics. NY1's Roma Torre begins this series of monthly reports by comparing answers then and now to the question, "What's the biggest issue facing the city today?"
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The city is a far different place than it was two decades ago. In 1992, there were 2,020 murders in the city, and though the crime rate had started to decline under Mayor David Dinkins and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, it was the chief concern for New Yorkers.
In a NY1/Marist poll conducted at the time, 33 percent of those polled that year said crime was the top problem facing New York City.
In the 20 years since, crime dropped dramatically. Homicides in the city were down to 515 in 2011, and in a new NY1/Marist poll only 21 percent of New Yorkers cite crime as the city's top issue.
"I think in part because the crime figures have generally gone down, but more than anything, I think people's concerns about making ends meet or affordability, the jobs picture, those are things that become top of the mind for many New Yorkers," says Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff.
Hands down, the economy topped the 2012 list of problems, with 39 percent of respondents this year with many complaining about high rents and joblessness.
In 1992 the economy wasn’t great either, but it ranked second, with 32 percent of New Yorkers back then citing it as the city's biggest issue.
In the early 1990s, racial issues dominated city life. Just one year after the Crown Heights riots and the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, New Yorkers were asked how serious they considered the issue of racial and religious hatred and 94 percent said it was a very serious or somewhat serious problem.
Today, as racial tensions have cooled, a significant majority of New Yorkers still feel it's a serious or somewhat serious problem, though at 70 percent the number isn't nearly as high.
Not surprisingly, more African American and Latino residents than whites cite the issue of racial hatred.
On the brighter side, New Yorkers are much more optimistic these days about their outlook on the quality of life in the city.
Despite economic woes, 66 percent agree that life in the next year will turn better, somewhat better or stay the same, while 20 years ago only 39 percent had such a positive vision of the city’s future.
"New York is one of the centers of American innovation and creativity, so I'm optimistic for the city," says a New Yorker.