Crack, Crime and a City in Crisis

New York was recovering from a near financial collapse and also coping with a so-called crack epidemic. Geoffrey Canada, an educator and youth worker who became head of the Harlem Children’s Zone, recalls returning from Boston in the 1980s to a Harlem that “was just chaos and despair—abandoned buildings, trash, graffiti, filth.” There was a sense “that this place was coming apart at the seams.”