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Thread: Times Square: A Century of Change

  1. #16


    June 13, 2004

    Once I Was You


    Slide Show: Just Visiting or Back for Good?

    MORE and more these days, I've been venturing toward the Times Square area, even if it's a little out of my way. I used to avoid the "new" Times Square because that was what real New Yorkers did, but lately I've been drawn to its colorful, touristy energy. I like navigating among its bombastic mobs; they make me feel as if I'm both being swallowed up by the crowd and am also the last man on earth.

    These days, Times Square possesses some of the most pure and unaffected energy anywhere in Manhattan. Within its glut of intersections lie the ghosts of countless individual, split-second moments, the moments of people's first impressions of New York, the first and final meeting between an individual's expectations and the real thing.

    But the real reason I've been gravitating here is because every once in a while, I'll spy someone in the crowd of tourists who catches my eye, probably because I am reminded of myself on that slapstick day some 10 years ago when I first arrived here.

    They may be trying slyly to separate from a tour group, or perhaps they simply seem a bit too smart for their surroundings. They're easily spotted because whether or not they're conscious of it, they're the ones who secretly want to own the city, and this desire makes them shine very brightly.

    I can usually spot the traits that differentiate the mere visitor from those rare individuals who have secretly planned on moving here their entire lives and are just testing the waters this time around.

    Visitors who are indeed just visiting gawk in celebratory delight at the tourist attractions - the neon, the zipper, the waxy giants. Visitors who have big plans for actually living here study the background extras behind those tourist attractions, the New Yorkers themselves.

    I know this because I showed these peculiar characteristics when I emerged out of a hissing subway station on 42nd Street and Broadway on that first day 10 years ago. I tried to pretend I was gawking at all the objects and symbols that have made Times Square so legendary, but instinctively my eyes kept snapping back down to the throngs of people zooming back and forth in the foreground.

    There were no outstretched arms or welcoming smiles, just black umbrellas, crisp hairstyles and leather briefcases whizzing by mere inches past my nose. These were my new neighbors, all eight million of them, and they seemed unfazed by Times Square's grand, galactic corridors.

    It wasn't until out of nowhere, one of them approached me and asked if I needed help, that I realized I was holding an unfolded map in one outstretched hand. I remember the amazement I felt that a real New Yorker was actually speaking to me. I never saw him again, but I'll never forget that smiling face in the center of Times Square, framed by the hundreds of whizzing pedestrians all around us. That was the first human interaction I had in New York.

    When I pass through Times Square these days, and I spot someone, map unfurled, perhaps studying the crowd a bit too much, I always offer to help. And though they're soon on their way again, I always think that someday they'll be back for good.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  2. #17


    June 27, 2004

    Kubrick's Vérité on 42nd Street

    To the Editor:

    I was amused to find Stanley Kubrick's "Killer's Kiss" among the movies mentioned in "It Oughta Be in Pictures" (June 13).

    I played one of the "two playful men in Shriners' hats" - the one who stole the scarf (the one with the harmonica was Alec Rubin).

    We filmed this sequence on a bitterly cold night - we had to wear sweaters under our jackets - with no permit, so Stanley had to conceal the camera.

    In the final shot, when I was running along 42nd Street, he drove alongside in a van. All this gave the sequence a certain vérité.

    I also choreographed the ballet sequence in the film for my dear friend Ruth Sobotka, who was married to Stanley at the time. She was a member of New York City Ballet and played Iris in the movie.

    The three of us spent a lot of time in Times Square in those days. Stanley frequented the chess parlors on 42nd Street. Ruth and I would pick him up after his game and we would go to the movies in the flea pits on 42nd Street night after night.

    Stanley wanted to see every movie, but if one showed signs of having more dialogue than he cared to listen to, he would read his newspaper by whatever glimmer of light he could find.

    Greenwich Village
    The writer is the archivist for the Cunningham Dance Foundation.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  3. #18
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Manhattan - UWS


    Bright lights, big city

    Times Square is loud, bright, garish and pushy - and a hotbed of design. That's according to Design Times Square, a project announced yesterday that invites New Yorkers to pick their favorites among 39 significant examples of architecture and design in and around the Great White Way.

    Vote's fair & Square

    New Amsterdam Theater on
    W. 42nd St. was completed in 1903.

    McGraw Hill walkway on Sixth Ave.

    Times Square subway mural

    The Paramount Building on Broadway
    is among 39 architectural gems in
    the Times Square area on
    the ballot of design favorites.

    Westin New York at Times Square
    towers above Eighth Ave.


    Times Square is loud, bright, garish and pushy - and a hotbed of design.

    That's according to Design Times Square, a project announced yesterday that invites New Yorkers to pick their favorites among 39 significant examples of architecture and design in and around the Great White Way, as far north as 52nd St.

    The name, it so happens, comes from the exposed light bulbs introduced to illuminate the entrances to Broadway theaters. It has been playfully incorporated by McDonald's into one of the selections, the showy space Beyer Binder Belle Architects designed for the chain on 42nd St.

    Votes for up to three choices can be placed using the (chad-free) paper ballots included in the project's guided-tour brochure.

    The brochure will be available starting next week at Times Square Information Center, 1560 Seventh Ave., between 46th & 47th Sts.; Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, and other sites. It's already online at

    Sponsored by the Times Square Alliance, the idea was inspired by a similar enterprise in Montreal, and a concern that blandness is threatening to compromise the area's "sin 'n' sizzle" look. It is also part of the crossroads' centennial celebration.

    Design Times Square mixes a lot of old with the new, acknowledging a racy history that goes back to such iconic constructions as the 1899 Republic Theater (now the New Victory), the clock tower Paramount Building, the Art Deco Cafe Edison and Sputnik-style Howard Johnson's, and the Depression-age Hollywood Theater, which became the Times Square Church ("Rent" is playing next door).

    In the future, though, each year's jury of design and architecture professionals will put only contemporary additions to the vote.

    Several of the most important visuals are underground, where murals by both Jacob Lawrence and Roy Lichtenstein decorate the subway station, or on the sides of buildings, such as Sol Lewitt's limestone installation at the Equitable Building and the patchwork colors of Arquitectonica's Westin Hotel.

    And don't forget the signs.

    The 16-story Hershey's store facade is a conscious hodge-podge of advertising techniques from different eras, while the McHale's front evokes a '40s as juicy as its famous hamburgers and the Brooks Atkinson's marquee is pure "Breakfast at Tiffany's."

    But for pure technological exuberance, design goes into sensory overdrive in the electronic billboarding for Reuters, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, ABC News and 1 Times Square. For better and worse, news tickers are today's ticker- tape parades.

    "Times Square is a place where people mouth off and express their opinions," says Alliance President Tim Tompkins. "Design Times Square wants to make them do that by looking around with fresh eyes."

    Originally published on August 12, 2004

    All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

  4. #19
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Some great vintage photos of Times Square area theatres that met their match with the wrecking ball or a developer's whim...


    Times Square, New York City
    Opened January 10, 1910
    Carrere and Hastings, Architects
    Presently the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre (Broadway entrance closed)
    Photo circa 1937
    Joe Coco Collection, THSA American Theatre Architecture Archive

    Broadway at 49th Street, New York City
    Opened December 28, 1917
    Thomas Lamb, Architect
    Joe Coco Collection, THSA American Theatre Architecture Archive

    Warner Bros. Theatre
    New York, New York
    Photo circa 1929
    Joe Coco Collection, THSA American Theatre Architecture Archive

    All images:
    THSA collections - copyright © 2005
    by the Theatre Historical Society of America

  5. #20
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Great photobucket page with links to scads of photos of old Times Square theaters.

    A taste ...

    ^^ 1989 photo courtesy Matt Weber at

    ^^ 1936 Times Square Astor, Minsky's Gaiety (Victoria) and Loew's State

    ^^ 1993 - the last original Duece action hero - see sign advertising shortlived "Movieplex 42"

    The former 42nd St. Harris -- this facade is now incorporated into the AMC Empire 25 Complex --
    you see these facade windows from the inside as you come down the escalator on the way out ...


  6. #21
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Workers Expose a Memory of a Bygone Times Square

    John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times
    Eighth Avenue slipped 60 years into the past this week, as a sign was revealed
    that once identified the Dixon Cafeteria, which opened in 1946.
    November 22, 2006

    The veneer of modern New York peeled away this week from a building at Eighth Avenue and 43rd Street to reveal a tasty slice of the 1940s.

    Dixon Cafeteria.

    More precisely: “Dixon Cafe er .” Some letters are missing — Dixon’s itself is long gone — but the exuberant red sign, with an X like outstretched arms and legs, has re-emerged to recall a Times Square that exists now only as simulacrum; of Horn & Hardarts and chow mein palaces; of Benny Goodman, the King of Swing, at the Paramount Theater and “Oklahoma!” at the St. James; of neon, neon and more neon.

    “It was a little elegant, in that Toffenetti kind of way,” said Lorraine B. Diehl, summoning another streamlined restaurant nearby. Ms. Diehl, co-author of “The Automat” (2002), grew up in Hell’s Kitchen and spent time as a girl with her grandmother, Elizabeth Carroll, who lived at 317 West 42nd Street.

    “She never cooked, so whenever I visited her, we’d go across the street to the Automat, downstairs to Kiley’s Bar and Grill or around the corner to Dixon’s,” Ms. Diehl said. “I remember thinking that Dixon’s was more ‘dressed up’ than the others because there were these large bouquets of artificial flowers in the window. I can’t say I remember the food, only the very cheerful atmosphere.”

    Dixon’s opened in 1946. It was known in the 1960s for homemade bread and yogurt. On a postcard showing its snazzy red-and-yellow food bar, it invited patrons to “enjoy a leisurely meal and the finest liquors” and promised to offer fare “as economically as quality permits.”

    The last tenant in its space was a blue jeans store, and its sign obscured Dixon’s until three days ago, when it was removed. Now, workers are turning it into the Eighth Avenue Pavilion, a mini-mall of vendors.

    The new sign is being made by Sign Media International of Woodside, Queens. On Sunday, workers salvaged the neon tubing from the D and the O and took the letters back to the shop. There, when connected to a transformer, the neon lit up anew.

    “I got goosebumps,” said Mustafa Arshad, the president of the sign company. “I said to my workers: ‘Look at this. This is a piece of history you’re touching.’ ”

    Hot pink history. In neon.

    Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
    Mustafa Arshad, the president of Sign Media International of Woodside, Queens,
    with the neon tubing from the O and D of the Dixon sign.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company


    Some more shots of this great old sign from late today ...

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  7. #22


    Times Square photos from the 1940's courtesy of Andreas Feininger. Apparently "adult" entertainment was not born in the '60's with the advent of seedy porn shops, but it was a little more subtle in the 40's.

    Last edited by Radiohead; November 25th, 2006 at 02:50 AM.

  8. #23


    Here's some TS shots from the 60's, courtesy of Klaus Lehnartz. I like these...they bring out the feel of what life was like on the street at that time. Excuse the poor scan quality.

  9. #24


    Thanks, Radiohead. Hate to say this, but Times Square lost most of its interest as it shucked its sleaze. And also, neon and lightbulbs produce more vibrant glitter than the electronic screens we have now.

    A pale shadow of its former self --in spite of the ongoing throngs.

  10. #25
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post

    Workers Expose a Memory of a Bygone Times Square

    The X Files

    James Estrin/The New York Times

    The Dixon Cafeteria, a 43rd Street mainstay from the ’40s through the ’60s,
    seized many opportunities to show off its distinctive double-horseshoe X.
    January 21, 2007

    Times Square

    THE D, I, O and N clinched the case, of course. But it really was X that marked the spot of the Dixon Cafeteria, which did business from the 1940s through the 1960s at Eighth Avenue and 43rd Street.

    Dixon’s X was a distinctive double horseshoe that could, with the addition of a toque-topped chef’s head, be turned into human form. It appeared on postcards, tableware and a hot-pink neon sign that seemed to have disappeared along with Dixon’s.

    But surprise: that long-lost neon was uncovered in November when a newer sign installed in front of it was taken down. Probably no one was happier about this urban archaeological find than Lillian Oswald, 72, of Flemington, N.J., a former Rockette who said her father, Marty Hodulick, had been a co-owner of Dixon’s.

    According to Mrs. Oswald, her father was born on Olib, an island in the Adriatic Sea that is now part of Croatia. He came to America in 1922 and learned the restaurant trade at his uncle’s diner in Pawtucket, R.I. After he moved to New York, he and his partners, John Rucando and Cash Petrovich, opened Dixon’s at 673 Eighth Avenue in 1946, evidently undaunted by the fact that the space had previously been used by the Boyertown Casket Company.

    There wasn’t a Dixon in the bunch. “We think that Dixon was the name of the first cafeteria they purchased across the street,” Mrs. Oswald said, “and they just decided to keep the name.”

    The cafeteria décor mixed hard-edged Deco and soft-hearted charm, with a mural opposite the steam table that depicted an idyllic little village. (On Olib, maybe?)

    No sentiment was wasted at the steam table, where countermen would put the more expensive imported herring on oval plates and the cheaper domestic variety on round plates, to signal the cashier what to charge. Seltzer, however, was free.

    Dixon’s was known for its baked goods, especially the whole-wheat bread, which The New York Times praised as “superb” in 1961. Its homemade yogurt, The Times said, was also “extremely good.”

    If Dixon’s wasn’t quite Sardi’s, it was brushed occasionally by theatrical luster. “My brother and sister-in-law remember a casting director that came to Dixon frequently and gave them tickets to ‘Male Animal’ with Robert Preston,” Mrs. Oswald said. That would have been in 1952 or 1953, perhaps Dixon’s golden age, when it was also furnishing the Rockettes with éclairs and napoleons, to no apparent ill effect.

    Mr. Hodulick and Mr. Rucando left the business in 1969, Mrs. Oswald said. She is not sure how much longer Mr. Petrovich held on.

    The resurrected X did not last long at all. By last week, it was gone. As were the D, I, O and N.

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company




    Color Linen Postcard.

  11. #26
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Another tid-bit about the Dixon Cafeteria from ...
    In 1939, a group of film bookers gathered at the Dixon Cafeteria on Eighth Avenue to form a Social Club for local people in the film business. A dinner celebrating the formation of the Club and the installation of its first group of officers was held at the Hotel Astor in 1940 with Henny Youngman as Master of Ceremonies. That was the beginning of the Motion Picture Bookers Club - - 60 years ago!

    Over the years, the Club has grown to include people from all areas of the motion picture industry - exhibition, distribution, advertising and other related businesses. Presently, the newly named Motion Picture Club is a thriving organization of 350 film business professionals throughout the Country. We still have social functions to foster camaraderie among members of the film community. However, our main focus is on raising funds for film industry - related charities. Each year the MPC makes substantial contributions to Variety - The Children's Charity, The Will Rogers Memorial Fund, The Motion Picture Pioneers and The Ronald McDonald House.

  12. #27
    The Dude Abides
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    NYC - Financial District


    Times Square generates more $ than economies of Panama, Bolivia

    Associated Press Writer
    from amNew York

    May 7, 2007, 10:57 PM EDT

    NEW YORK -- Times Square, the area of midtown Manhattan that's evolved over the past century from a bustling theater district to a symbol of crime and decay and now to a sanitized entertainment mecca, pumps about $55 billion a year directly into the city's economy, according to a new study.

    Times Square's financial contribution to the city exceeds the city's budgets for public libraries and for the Departments of Parks & Recreation, Youth and Community Development, Cultural Affairs, Small Business Services and for the Aging, said the study commissioned by Times Square Alliance, a privately funded non-profit dedicated to improving the area.

    In the past 15 years, the area has become a financial and media hub and a tourist destination and has positioned itself as the city's "economic engine," said Tim Tompkins, the alliance's president. Another $35 billion is generated indirectly, such as when a company in Times Square buys services from another business elsewhere in the city, the study said.

    "This report affirms and provides evidence of what we have long suspected," Tompkins said. "Times Square is not just one of New York City's most popular destinations; it in essence represents its own distinct and powerful economy within the city, pumping tens of billions of dollars into the local economy. In this way, Times Square is a vital organ to New York City, a critical element in the city's financial landscape."

    The study, the first of its kind of Times Square since its most recent transformation, analyzed the economic impact of jobs, entertainment and other spending at the Crossroads of the World.

    Eight of every 10 of the millions of annual city tourists visit Times Square, the study said. They and others spend billions of dollars on hotels (one of every four Manhattan hotel rooms is in Times Square), restaurants and retail stores, on Broadway shows and at other entertainment venues, the study said.

    In addition, 5 percent of the city's jobs, about 200,000, are located in Times Square, an area that represents only one-tenth of a percent of the city's land area, the study noted. The area contributes $1.1 billion in annual taxes to the city, it said.

    Known for its flashy electronic outdoor ads, the area is home to Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, the annual New Year's Eve celebration and MTV studios. Thanks to live television shots of Times Square on shows such as MTV's "Total Request Live" and "Good Morning America," which also broadcasts from Times Square, the area acts an "unparalleled marketing vehicle" for the city to millions of viewers, the study noted.

    The face of Times Square started to change in the 1980s, when a commercial boom began as part of long-term plans by former Mayor David Dinkins. In the 1990s, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani increased police presence and drove out many pornography shops in the area, bordered roughly by 53rd Street on the north, 40th Street to the south and Eighth and Sixth avenues to the west and east.

    Advocates of the latest transformation say the area is cleaner and safer. Critics, however, say Times Square has been Disney-fied and stripped of its character and has squeezed out nearby low-income residents.

    The estimated 2006 gross domestic product for Bolivia was $27.2 billion, according to HR&A Inc., the firm that conducted the study for the alliance, citing CIA World Fact Book data. Panama's was $25.3 billion.

    Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.

  13. #28
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Newest addition for TS ???


  14. #29
    Banned Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    This is one restaurant chain I am happy to see coming to NYC.

  15. #30
    Senior Member NewYorkDoc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Brooklyn, New York


    It's already here.

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