Tim Lawrence is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London and the author of
Shrouded Abatements and Mysterious Deaths
The Ford government initially refused to come to New York City’s help when it went bankrupt in 1975 but softened its approach a couple of months later when Ford handed the city a $2.3 billion loan to tide it over the next three years. Mayor Koch carried forward a budget-tightening program to the point where Republicans began to openly admire him. Koch let it be known that he admired Reagan but felt less sanguine when the president slashed spending by just under $700 billion in his first budget. Koch proposed a $2 billion capital budget that would mark the beginning of a ten-year reconstruction program. Meanwhile, dance commentators looked back on the year as one of regeneration. But the talk of rebirth was countered by reports that a mysterious infection was leading gay men to contract rare illnesses such as Kaposi’s sarcoma.