Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pizza and Times Square - How did we get here?

If there's one constant in New York life, one reliable anchor in the tumult of existence here, it's pizza. Ever since the influx of Italian immigrants in the early 20th century, this concoction of flat bread with tomato sauce and cheese has become one of the staple items for all New Yorkers, providing sustenance and comfort to the world's greatest city for over 100 years. How this did happen? How did it conquer NYC? How come NYC is pizza's city and we just eat in it? This segment from WNYC radio explores why.

And talking about the anchors of NYC, no place anchors our town more than Times Square. The crossroads of the world in the center of the world, Times Square has been remade in the last few years with the introduction of pedestrian plazas -- large swaths of the public square where New Yorkers and tourists can roam free and "chill" sans the threat of cars. This other segment from WNYC is about the transformation of -- and caused by -- the new Times Square.

This past weekend, the wife and I found ourselves in the Times Square area. We got some ice cream and plunked ourselves at the public tables smack dab in the center of the crossroads of the world to enjoy our treats. There we were ... eating ice cream ... sitting on chairs, at a table ... in the middle of friggin' Times Square!  Reeled the mind at how this isn't our parents Times Square. It's almost a cliche to say it now, but the hookers, pimps, drug dealers, vagabonds, ruffians, porn theaters, and dilapidated structures that used to populate the area are truly gone, gone, gone. Now Times Square is a buzzing hive of tourists and merchants, ablaze with LED screens advertising ... everything ... a family friendly gathering place. 

The transformation of Times Square prove the old maxims: the old becomes new, the sleazy becomes respectable, the rebel becomes the establishment. Like the old man said in Chinatown, if something lasts long enough, it doesn't matter how outrageous it's past: it becomes respectable.

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