So Goes Times Square, so goes NYC ...
I've blogged countless times over the years about the transformation of NYC from a bustling, fun, dirty, dangerous city into a sanitized fun-house mirror of itself catering to tourists and rich foreigners. The cost of living in this city, while never cheap, is now astronomical, and the vestiges of old NYC - like coffee shops, rent controlled apartments, corner drug stores, and porn theaters - are fast disappearing. Because NYC is so vast, because it's a hodgepodge of over 300 neighborhoods (many of which are bigger than most towns and cities in the rest of the country), it's impossible to point to one spot in NYC as representative of greater whole changing dynamic. However, if you had to look for one example, then obviously Times Square, Crossroads of the World, is the place. It has changed so dramatically over the last quarter century, done a complete 180 in the city's and the public's imagination, going from "scary" to "boring", from "gross" to "respectable", that's it's almost impossible to comprehend. Times Square basically is NYC -- only more so.
This lengthy article from this week's New York magazine reviews the transformation of Times Square over the years, from a den of moral inequity to a den of economic inequality. Times Square, it reminds us, has always been the nerve center of the city, representative of it in so many ways. So when it changed, the rest of the city was destined to follow it.
Also, you might be interested to read (or read about) a new book called City on Fire about NYC in the last 1970s era, when the city was dangerous -- and wonderful.
Then, finally, read this article about the boom in 1970s New York nostalgia. Apparently, it's a "thing" now.
If you get a time machine and travel back 40-something years and tell New Yorkers what their city would become, most of them would ask to get into the time machine and travel back to the future with you. But for many of us, if we could go back to that old NYC, some of us, including yours truly, might choose to stay there ... for a while at least.
As Fran Leibowitz said: Times Square today is like a gay bar in the 1970s -- no one admits to going there.