Throughout 70s and 80s the Times Square thrived as a haven for XXX theaters, go-go girls, pimps, whore houses, rent boys, hustlers, thieves, dealers, and lowlifes on the make.
Police and city authorities declared the area as DMZ for crime and sex and the 1977 debut of Show World across 42nd Street from the Port Authority Bus Terminal was the high-water mark for Times Square's Era of Errors.
Successive mayors attempted to clean up 42nd Street, but the Mafia-owned establishments relied on the Free Speech Amendment to protect their wicked fiefdom. Finally in 1995 Rudy Giuliani enacted in radical adult zoning laws and the Doo-Wop's magnificent wickedness ended the following year with the closure of every XXX theaters and porno shops.
I happened to be walking on West 42nd Street on that rainy day in 1987.
Aficionados of perversity cried on the sidewalk, as the moving crews loaded their salacious merchandise onto trucks. The XXX patrons stood outside in tears chanting, “Fuck Mickey Mouse.”
Later that evening a friend of mine lamented the disappearance of Times Square.
“NYC has been thrown into a blender and homogenized into a bland and boring urban pastiche. This city once had character and disparate neighborhoods. Now it’s just numbingly the same wherever you go. I was driving around the city yesterday and occurred to me that downtown-uptown, west-east, it all looked the same now. Same store fronts, same hideous developer apartment buildings, same gourmet coffee, same gentrifications, same same shame.”
My friend wasn't speaking about egg creams and luncheonettes, although those hallowed institutions have been replaced by Starbucks and Burger King.
While Times Square's wickedness disappeared like the Wicked Witch of the West melting in the WIZARD OF OZ, we still have our memories.
ps Fuck Guiliani.