Times Square has always welcomed us into its midst. As the double triangular plot formed by the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, it has provided one of those rare occasions for the natural opening up of the rectilinear grid imposed on Manhattan in 1811. To enter onto that clearing is like coming to the palm of an outstretched hand, after having walked more rigidly along its fingers. As the acknowledged crossroads of the city, ablaze with neon billboards, it seethes with energy. Every kind of activity is to be found there, for every sort of people: movies, theater, restaurants, retail shops, hotels, pornography, prostitution. It is a pleasing low-rise oasis in our horizon-less vertical metropolis, the honkytonk heart of New York City and our one indisputable multi-racial enclave: in splendor and squalor, a ribald burlesque of urbanity.

Nevertheless, for almost half a century people have been...


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