Sign of the Times: The Lure of 42nd Street

Sign of the Times: The Lure of 42nd Street

As the new Times Square takes shape, this is a good time to think about what’s special about it, the ways in which we love it and hate it and love to hate it. Since the completion and convergence of several elevated and subway lines around the turn of the century, the square—even before it became Times Square (which it did with the opening of the New York Times Building at 1 Times Square in 1905)—has been a special kind of space. It became famous first for its hotels, restaurants, cafés, and cabarets, places where men and women could talk, smoke, drink, dance—to both new and old music—and have a good time together. Nothing like this existed in nineteenth-century America, where the lines between respectable and dissolute spaces were sharply drawn. From the very start, even when it was Longacre Square, Times Square seemed to exist to blur those lines.

...

Lima