Thursday, July 26, 2007

Forty-Deuce

June 1988


June 2007


Ah, Forty-Second Street. Specifically, West 42nd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, long known to the denizens there as 'the deuce' or 'forty-deuce'. Boulevard of porn theaters, sex shops, cheap food stands and abandoned and decaying buildings. This was not the sort of place to be caught wearing colorful shirts and shorts, or sandals with socks. Even I wasn't always comfortable strolling along here with a camera in hand. There was a time, once, when I shot a picture of the theater marquees, only to have a wasting drunk run up to me after I'd turned away, and take a feeble kick at my ass. I turned around, with my right arm upraised as he ran back across the street. (A good thing he did, too. I have no idea what I would have done had he held his ground.)

Seen here in the summer of 1988, looking west toward the river, it's easy to see the major changes that have taken place. Both of the Seventh Avenue corners have had their buildings replaced: the southwest corner (on the left) had everything razed right up to the east wall of the New Amsterdam theater (see the article below - 41 Street Subway Entrance), while the northwest corner lost everything up to the New Victory theater. In '88 the New Victory was the marquee with 'Box Office on Broadway' on it; the marquee was removed in favor of a large double stairway during the renovations. Click on the picture to see the enlarged version; the stairway is the dark area below the 'Subway' sign. The northwest corner is now home to the 32 story Reuters building, aka 3 Times Square.

Further down the block on the south side, the Chandler building remains, rehabbed, with its red neon marquee sheltering the entrance to a huge McDonalds at street level. Madam Tussaud's occupies part of the old Liberty theater next to that. (The rest of this block will be covered in more detail in a future article.)

Off in the distance you can clearly make out the Port Authority bus terminal on Eighth Avenue, with its 'X' girders, so appropriate for this neighborhood, and beyond that the 1932 art deco McGraw-Hill building, once the tallest in the area. These landmarks are less distinct in the 2007 scene; the PA's steelwork is covered with neon, and the 33 floor McGraw-Hill was surpassed in '04 by the 60-story Orion building, a residential tower.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Back in 1988, people must have been crossing the street just any-which-way, even diagonally, I bet.
Can't have the tourists doing that.