Times Square, on the north side of 42nd Street between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, got its name from the New York Times which set up its offices here in 1904. But Times Square, of course, refers to more than just ‘one square; it covers the area from 42nd to 47th Streets, between Sixth and Eighth avenues. The best theatres and first-run cinemas are to be found here, but so are strip joints (or worse), pornographic bookstores and films and prostitutes. Here you find excellent restaurants alongside seamy.
Sordid or glamorous, Times Square remains liveliest entertainment area.
Bars; at night you’ll see women in evening dress arriving in chauffeur-driven Rolls, as well as tramps, drunks, pickpockets, drug-pushers and sundry street musicians. Times Square seems pretty sordid by day, but in the evenings when the neon lights glow and the litter is not as noticeable, it comes alive.
The famous moving illuminated news tape at No. 1 Times Square is made up of more than 12,000 electric bulbs. On December 31, a lighted globe comes down a pole on the top of this building announcing the arrival of the New Year. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers come to witness this event, which is also shown on television.
In some ways Broadway and Times Square overlap. A legitimate theatre will be described as on Broadway whereas a pornographic cinema at the very same address would be in Times Square. Practically all popular plays and musical comedies are produced on Broadway. The term has become such a cliche that a serious theatre will advertise itself as off-Broad-way, while the real avant-garde will claim to be off-off Broadway. This has nothing to do with geographical location.
West of Times Square. 42nd Street is known as Sin Street. You’ll understand why when you see it. But going east, on the other hand, it’s one of the liveliest, most fascinating streets in the city. This has always been the place for pace-setting buildings: here you’ll see some of the greatest successes in the history of American architecture.
At 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue are two of the most attractive skyscrapers of recent years (both completed in 1974): the New York Telephone Company Building on the corner all white marble and black glass and the W.R. Grace Building between Fifth and Sixth avenues, with its striking, slightly concave silhouette. The same architect. Gordon Bun-shaft, designed an almost identical building on 57th Street, a few steps from Fifth Avenue. They’re both magnificent.
Bryant Park occupies the site of the Crystal Palace, built for the 1853 World’s Fair and destroyed by fire six years later. The park, not recommended after dark, lies behind the New Benevolent Uncle Sam advertises charity drive outside main library.
York Public Library. This monument in American Beaux-Arts style (neo-classic) opened in 1911; two well-photographed stone lions guard the entrance. One of the largest libraries in the world, it possesses several million books, almost as many manuscripts and vast reading rooms. A number of rare works are put on exhibit in rotation. Unfortunately, this cultural monument is under constant threat of bankruptcy. Entrance is free. Closed on Thursday, Sunday and holidays.
Further east on 42nd Street, past Madison Avenue, you will come to the Airline Building, a minor masterpiece of Art Deco which was an air terminal before World War II. Almost across the street, blocking the view up Park Avenue is the massive bulk of Grand Central Station, completed in 1913. Inside 66 rail lines arrive on the upper level, 57 on the lower. The central concourse, one of the largest in the world, is invaded every afternoon from 4 to 5.30 by hundreds of thousands of suburban commuters catching their trains home. New Yorkers either love or hate the place, and attempts have been made more than once to have it torn down. It is 32 now classified as a national monument, an example of American Beaux-Arts style. Opposite the station, below the overpass, are the modest premises of the New York Convention and Visitors Bureau, which serves as a tourist information centre (see Tourist Information Offices, p. 123).
Directly behind the station is the Pan Am Building, the head office of the airline, where more than 20,000 people work. Cutting across Park Avenue, the 59-floor octagonal structure is easily recognized even from afar. Escalators lead directly into Grand Central Station. As a result of an accident in 1977, helicopters are now banned from using the rooftop heliport.
Don’t miss four New York landmarks on Park Avenue north of the Pan Am Building: on the left, at 47th Street, the striking Union Carbide Building with its pink marble pavement; at 49th Street the Waldorf Astoria Hotel (on the right), distinguished host to visiting heads of state; the beautiful bronze Seagram Building, by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, rises on the right between 52nd and 53rd streets; and, across the avenue at 53rd Street, the Lever House,
Epidemic of graffiti on subway train has evolved into a new art form.
A green glass structure which created an architectural furor when it was built in 1952.
Back on 42nd Street you’ll come to the Chrysler Building. When completed in 1930, this was the tallest skyscraper in the world, but in a matter of months it was overtaken by the Empire State Building. Chrysler is a positive temple to the automobile: the top is shaped like the radiator cap on Chrys-ler’s 1929 model and the whole facade is dotted with stylized automobile motifs. Although architecturally one of the most original efforts in New York, it is now just another office building.
At the corner of Second Avenue stands the Daily News Building, the home of the newspaper with the largest daily circulation in America. An enormous revolving globe occupies a good part of the lobby.
Further on, between Second and First Avenues, you will pass the offices of the Ford Foundation with a marvellous interior garden you can see from the street.
Then you arrive at U.N. Plaza.
Midtown windows reflect vivid blue sky; most taxis are blatant yellow.
Times Square and Broadway New York Photo Gallery
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