The amazing Steven Siegel has been documenting New York City's five boroughs (and beyond) for three decades now. Click through for a small sampling of his photos from the 1980s, where you'll see abandoned cars overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge, a very desolate Bushwick, and even a massive hole in the Manhattan Bridge pedestrian walkway. He recently told 12 oz. Prophet:

I’ve been photographing the streets and subways of New York for the past 30 years. When young people today look at my shots from the 1980’s, they are aghast. To them, New York of the 1980’s is almost unrecognizable. And they are right.

Some older people are nostalgic for “the good old days.” For example, they remember the Times Square of the 80’s… And what they remember is not so much the danger but the grittiness and (for lack of a better word) the authenticity. Yes, there was sleaze, but there were also video arcades, cheap movies, restaurants, and weird places. These same people resent the “Disney-ification” of Times Square and the gentrification of virtually all of Manhattan and many areas of the boroughs, and the loss of cheap housing and local stores everywhere.

Of course, others’ reactions to these same photos could not be more different. If they’re over a certain age, they remember the high crime, the twin crises of AIDS and crack, the racial tension, the lurid tabloid headlines about the latest street crime. They say: It was a nightmare, and thank God it’s over. And for people in their twenties who have a negative reaction to these old photos, their reaction is often expressed as: How (or why) would people live here (assuming they had a choice)?

Of course, both views are right.

We hope to share some more photos from Siegel's massive collection soon, so stay tuned, nostalgia freaks.