In the below video, Craig T. Nelson—nestled safely in what looks to be America's heartland—describes the Times Square of the 1980s: "A magnet for anyone looking to buy or sell almost anything, and like other mean streets in other cities around the country, citizens have become so intimidated they've become prisoners in their own neighborhood."
This was for the series Heroes: Made In The U.S.A., and this segment focuses on Curtis Sliwa and his Guardian Angels. The group was less than 10 years old at this point and still trying to get the word out—in fact, Sliwa eventually apologized for staging several subway rescues that decade in order to get publicity.
In the video, Sliwa explains the origins of the Angels: "In New York City, in the slime and grime, seeing crime about everywhere, being a manager of a McDonald's in the cesspool of crime in the South Bronx, that gave me enough reason to start putting the nuts and bolts together and form a citizen's safety patrol, which you know as the Guardian Angels." This particular segment has a focus on drugs and drug dealers, as it was filmed in the height of the crack epidemic.
Here's another piece on crack in Hell's Kitchen from 1988:
Below, some crack PSAs that aired in NYC around that same time:
And who can forget SNAKE?: