Newsday (Nassau Edition) from Hempstead, New York on December 12, 1973 · 101
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Newsday (Nassau Edition) from Hempstead, New York · 101

Hempstead, New York
Issue Date:
Wednesday, December 12, 1973
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The Minskoff Theater lobby takes advantage of the gaudy vie tc ® What we want to do is clean it up shatter it to bits and rebuild it’ Edward Godoy in Fred Carcone’s Play land where the change in the area can be monitored through the changing clientele Xeuesdmg Phmtma bg Joe Dombroski und Thomas It Koentgea say the change Is already happening "It takes tim to stop the downward trend’ Sardi says "Most of the things Lindsay talked about eight years ago are beginning to come to fruition now The downward trend stopped two years ago A new one is just started with buildings coming in and plans for a convention center There’s no doubt about it it’s going up" However words of upstanding businessmen have to be taken with a grain of salt these days True Sardi’s summer this year was better than last (1118111 God" he says fervently) But businessmen have banded together into groups like the Broadway Association and various ad hoc committees to try to improve the area and they are starting with image "Our really big problem is a public relations problem" says Harriet Slaughter chairman of the Actors Equity Times Square Development Committee ’"Ihere’s so much negative talk lost year we wrote letters to all our people who might appear on television talk shows and asked diem to talk positively about Times Square" - Fred Caroone stays behind die counter in his Playland at 47th Street where he has done business since he was discharged from the Army in October 1945 "Oh yes it’s changed" he says "You used to get lots of different kinds of people Today they’re all hippies or out of Harlem Some of them are very hard to get along with But it’s improved in the past few months There are a lot more cops on the street" But it’s not just more police that is the real hope for the area It is as Sardi says more buildings "What we want to do about Times Square is dean it up shatter it to bits and rebuild it" says Robert Watt president of the Broadway Association Although real estate developers for some years have - been assembling large plots in the hope of doing just that the transformation has been slow In taking place The Allied Chemical Co started it in 1963 when it bought and completely remodeled the old New York Times building after which Times Square was named Then Allied Chemical moved out of town and tried frantically for more than a year to sell die building finally making a deal with developer Alex Parker who will change It into an exposition center with the help of artist entrepreneur Peter Max Other modem additions to the area are the Minskaff Building at 44th Street 1500 Broadway at 43rd Street and the Uris Building at 50th Street Four new anonymous cliffs of glass with mar ble in the lobbies "The chroming of Times Square" architect Raul deAnnaa calls it "It’s pasteurized homogenized But what’s better? This or being mugged by perverts? It’s like Howard Johnson’s Not excellent but you can trust you wont get ptomaine poisoning" The architects designers and lawyers in the Mayor’s Office of Midtown Planning and Development don’t want the new and better Times Square to be Howard Johnson’s They don’t want another sterile Sixth Avenue They want flashing lights soaring spaces tiny shops outdoor cafes browsing places and tourist centers Their office is smack in the middle of 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues one of the sleaziest blocks in the whole area It is also one of the most vitaL It is 3:55 on a gray fall afternoon A crowd — mostly male and mostly black — has gathered at the comer of Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street to watch one of those impromptu street entertainments that Times Square does best In the center of the crowd two men— one very young and very handsome wearing an afro and a University of Hawaii T-shirt the other older shabbier closer cropped in flowered black goatee and beads of sweat— are doing improbable things with a basketball They roll it up arms down backsides flick and jostle and bounce it all the time keeping up a running line of patter to the appreciative laughter of the crowd The cap at their feet fills up quickly with coins Most of the controversy about what to do about Times Square colters on just this problem: How to retain the off-the-cuff vitality of the street and still get rid of the filth and the terror "As depressing as 42nd Street is" says planner Jaquelin T Robertson "—and in many ways it is the resting place for the flotsam of the city— despite that or maybe because of it too the whole area is goddamn exciting It has true vitality and night life" Robertson is currently with Arlen Realty builders of 1500 Broadway but it was he who helped develop the Office of Midtown Planning and directed it in its first years The office was bom when it became evident that the new buildings were threatening to destroy Broadway theaters He came up with a way to trade air rights to real estate brokers interested in building bigger buildings in return for assurances from them that they would build theaters into their buildings That way he got one new theater built into the Minskoff building and two in the Uris One is slated for a new hotel The Minskoff is currently housing "Irene" and there’s nothing like a hit to make a theater work especially if you can keep the crowds happy with a panoramic view of the lights of Times Square from the theater lobby like the one at the Minskoff It is intermission at “Irene1 Pat Cone small thick gravelly voiced executive vice president of Midwest Mutual Insurance in Dee Moines Iowa is drinking theater whisky out of a plastic cup so small that after the first tip only the ice is left " love the theater Ae says with enormous satisfaction “Pm in the theater as much as I can be Uris that’s not much But this flaking in the Winston sign with its blow-by-blow smoke rings and the enormous Cordon’s Gin all lit up like a Pop icon beyond the lobby’s windows' — “you’ve got to have lights to be Times Square That’s what people from Dee Moines come to see" And more recently people from Frankfurt and Tokyo and London and Paris The lights are of course Times Square At the Minskoff you see them safely at a distance from behind glass Few theatergoers stand around outside to admire the lights these days By 11 o’clock the middle class has cleared out of the area leaving it to the poor and the loiterers There’s not nodi to keep anyone there after the theater The better restaurants are the ones that have been there for 50 yean like Sardi’s and the Algonquin Instead of sparkling new nightspots there is a Holiday Inn lookalike called the Pub Theatrical below the Uris building and an of-— Continued on Page 11 A s cn

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