A Look at the 1990 New York of Six Degrees of Separation

June 15th, 2017 by

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A Look at the 1990 New York of Six Degrees of Separation

To truly understand John Guare’s Tony and Pulitzer-nominated masterpiece Six Degrees of Separation, you must have a sense of 1990 Manhattan that Ouisa & Flan Kittredge and young Paul inhabit. Scroll on for a quick catch-up on life 27 years ago.


There are 2,245 murders in New York City during 1990.

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The median household income in New York is $31,591 (compared to $58,005 today).

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In world politics Nelson Mandela is released from prison after 27 years. Margaret Thatcher resigns as the U.K.’s Prime Minister after over 11 years. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in 1990 Germany is unified once again and Berlin is named capital. Mikhail Gorbachev gets elected as the first executive president of the Soviet Union. Mary Robinson becomes the first female President of Ireland.


Tim Berners-Lee creates the first web server and the foundation for the World Wide Web.

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Driving Miss Daisy, the film adaptation based on Playwrights Horizons’ Pulitzer Prize-winning off-Broadway play, wins Best Picture at the Oscars.


Smoking is banned on all cross-country flights in the United States.

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The Grapes of Wrath and City of Angels won Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Musical…But the Tony night performances from Tony winners Maggie Smith (Lettice and Lovage) and Michael Jeter (Grand Hotel) live on.



Nickelodeon Studios opens as does the theme park for Universal Studios in Florida.

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Home Alone hits movie theaters. Kevin & Co. go on to become the highest grossing live-action family comedy film of all time.

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The leaders of Canada, the United States, and 32 European states meet in Paris to formally mark the end of the Cold War.

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In sports, the San Francisco 49ers win the Super Bowl, the Cincinnati Reds win the World Series, the Edmonton Oilers win the Stanley Cup, and Detroit Pistons win the NBA Championship.


Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” won Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammys. And the Grammys took away Milli Vanilli's Grammy after their lip sync scandal.


George Bush is named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

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Nintendo released Super Mario Bros. 3.

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In 1990, Madonna released "Vogue" and gave us that epic, quotable rap-spoken Old Hollywood section.


Murphy Brown beat Cheers, The Golden Girls, Designing Women and The Wonder Years for the Outstanding Comedy Series Emmy Award. While L.A. Law won Outstanding Drama.

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Get a look at the city with these photos by Gregoire Alessandrini.


Don't miss Six Degrees of Separation at Broadway's Barrymore Theatre through June 18.