A Star Is Reborn

Investors hustle to land parts in Times Square's transformation

Before Hollywood, there was Times Square, world famous as the nexus of American popular culture in its first Golden Age. Well into the 1930s, New York's Times Square flourished as the national center stage for plays, movies, and pop music. By the 1940s, it had settled into a gradual decline that accelerated in the 1960s as pornography and street crime took root. Sporadic attempts at cleaning up the district went nowhere. In 1992, officials scuttled an ambitious plan to redevelop 42nd Street, the epicenter of the district's blight. Times Square seemed more hopeless than ever, a symbol not only of the sleazy side of big-city America but also of the intractability of its decay.

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