42nd Street: Then & Now

Posted on 05 Dec 2010 at 5:44am

The New York Times says that with this week’s opening of a new 40-story tower at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, the 30-year remodel of Times Square is finally over.

The plan, to radically make over 13 acres, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, primarily fronting 42nd Street, outlived three mayors, four governors, two real estate booms and two recessions. It faced widespread derision in the beginning from jaded New Yorkers who were wise to grand plans. It faces occasional derision today from New Yorkers who speak of the old Times Square with newfound fondness. It embodied both the hubris of urban master planning and its possibilities, and showed the value of ripping up blueprints and starting over in midstream. And it has been a touchstone experience for a city that is now building, or trying to build, several multibillion-dollar projects, including ground zero, the Atlantic Yards, Willets Point and the Hudson Yards. “So often, people say New York can’t build large-scale projects anymore,” said Lynne B. Sagalynn, a professor of real estate finance at Columbia University and the author of “Times Square Roulette: Remaking the City Icon.” But, Professor Sagalynn said, “Times Square is an example of how a city was able to think on a grand scale and carry it out.”

There’s a cool interactive slideshow thingy in the above-linked story.

Joe. My. God.

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