I went to Times Square last weekend. Mostly to see Mockingjay part 2 but also to get some pics of the square. I used to live in the neighborhood when I was in college. It was cool to be able to roll out of bed on New Year’s Eve and step right out into the world’s biggest party. This was back before the Disney take over or the high security after 9/11. This was back when you could still go to sex shows in the neighborhood and to seedy movie theaters that showed martial arts films and bootlegged versions of blockbusters days before release.
When I was in High School I used to work on Times Square in one of the bigger movie theaters, The Embassy. But that was even further back. Way back in the days of drug dealers, hustlers and prostitutes on every side street. I put up an old picture I took from those days a while back. Here it is again.
Yes. I’m old. And Times Square had completely changed by the time I was in college and it’s changed even more today. I hadn’t been back to my old neighborhood in well over a decade. There are fewer cars and more people. More lights. More ads and more vendors. A ton more cops and a lot more theaters. Just a lot more of everything I think.
And oh boy has it changed.
To the pics…
The Chrysler is a big ass building. So that’s pretty far away. You can also see the time. It’s 4:25. The sun will be setting soon. I was hoping to get the full Times Square light show.
You can see the window cleaners. Another clock in the distance. It’s 5:05. And fighter jets flying by on a big screen. I remember when Times Square had just one screen.
Today there are at least a hundred screens all over the place. All moving ads and TV and News. It’s overwhelmingly active.
The old buildings are still there but surrounded and suffocated by new ones.
The new ones are slick and sleek and ugly and piled one on top of the other. Hotel after hotel after hotel. And having lived there I get it. But still, you can’t go home again.
In my day, the streets were filled with characters. And they still are. Hustling and bustling. (What the hell is bustling anyway? I know a hustler when I see one. But a bustler?)
But the old theaters are still there and they’re still as beautiful as ever. Timeless.
I used to go see lots of plays and musicals and concerts. It’s all about how early you get in line and since I lived there I was often first in line.
They used to have half-priced tickets to fill the houses. They’d go on sale right before curtain but the line would be miles long well before. I doubt they even need to do that anymore. I think every show sells out every night. (I could be wrong)
I haven’t seen a Broadway show in over 20 years. I barely get out to the movies these days. So the theater is just wishful thinking. Maybe one day.
My first movie was at Radio City Music Hall. Lawrence of Arabia on a giant screen. I was too young to know what was going on but it was still magical. Absolutely breathtaking.
It took me over an hour to walk the eight blocks through the massive crowd. But of course I kept stopping to take pictures. But since I’m a New Yorker, I knew to step out-of-the-way before I stopped. If only tourist knew to do the same.
I may feel nostalgic for the way it was but Times Square is still gorgeous. And it is truly a feast for each and every one of the senses.
And speaking of feasts…