Harriet M. Welsch grows up on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City in the 1960s, a time of bustling activity and transition for one of the most prominent cities in the world. This section provides a bit of contemporary context to Harriet's story, so readers can understand the nature of the city during this important decade.
Following the post-World War II economic boom that New York City enjoyed, the city began a decline in the 1960s. This was true of most major cities across the United States, as the growth of suburbs encouraged wealthy families to move out of urban areas. Crime rose, particularly in areas like Times Square, which lent the city a seedier reputation.
However, despite this, NYC was seeing a lot of groundbreaking change that would pave the way for its brighter future. The very look of New York City was changing, as major skyscrapers, notably the World Trade Center complex, were envisioned and construction began. After two of NYC's major league baseball teams, the Dodgers and the Giants, moved to California, the New York Mets were formed in 1962, which revitalized sports and leisure.
The demographic makeup of the city changed, too, after the Federal Immigration Act of 1965 abolished national origin quotas that limited the number of immigrants that could arrive to the U.S. from a given country per year. Immigration from Asia increased, forming the basis for the city's large Asian-American community that is increasingly vibrant today.
The civil rights movement was also important in NYC at this time, as New Yorkers joined the wider national community in raising their voices against segregation; this problem was not unique to the South, and the movement stretched northward, as well. In the year 1960, New York City voted to elect John F. Kennedy as President of the United States by a margin of 62.62% to opponent Nixon's 37.04%, fitting with the city's overwhelming tendency to vote for the Democratic ticket.