Legion are the New Yorkers who lament the “new” Times Square, though how many of them were actually around to witness the pimps, peepshows and drugged-out decrepitude of the Crossroads of the World?
The Times has a story about how the rejuvenation of the square that bears its name is finally finished, with the opening of 11 Times Square next month. Among the interesting tidbits is that Disneyfication is not just an expression but an apt explanation for the square of today, as Mickey and the gang were the first major company to take a gamble on the area.
Yet the most striking piece of history is that the area nearly wound up looking like Rockefeller Center West, and was saved by the early ’90s recession, perhaps one of the few good things to come of that time for the city.
But this gloomy period, [Rebecca] Robertson said, also proved to be an opportunity to overhaul the much-criticized development plan, whose four huge skyscrapers were designed more to bury Times Square’s sordid past than to celebrate its connection to popular culture.
Ms. Robertson, together with the architect Robert A. M. Stern and the graphic designer Tibor Kalman, devised an interim plan that reconnected with the “razzmatazz” of Times Square’s past by emphasizing entertainment, big garish signs, an eclectic mix of tenants and glassier, flashier office towers, with lobbies that seemed to flow onto the sidewalk rather than wall it off.
In an accompanying video, Robertson, the former director of the square’s redevelopment, said the idea was to recreate the “chaotic, popular, overcrowded, 24/7, layered place it had been in its heyday.” Well, job well done.