Take a Tour of the Remnants of Gritty Old Times Square

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We are thrilled to announce the latest addition to our tours which will take you back to the Gritty Old Times Square of the 1970’s… Back then, Times Square was a dangerous, exciting, gritty, intense, racially and sexually diverse neighborhood frequented by both locals and tourists. Love it or hate it, you couldn’t ignore it. Most of old Times Square has been carefully obliterated by generic hotels, soulless office buildings, and Walt Disney musicals, but there are still a few vestiges of its seedy past—if you know where to look.

Let us take you back to the halcyon days when 42nd Street was the Deuce, Eighth Avenue was the Minnesota Strip, the Great White Way was a red light district, and the Crossroads of the World was XXX-rated. We will see former peepshows, grindhouses, adult book stores, dive bars, hotsheet hotels, sex clubs, porno theaters, and massage parlors–not to mention all three locations of the New York Times.

We will visit sites for classic films like Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Taxi Driver (1976). We will discover the personalities who made Times Square what it was: the King of the Peeps; the reclusive genius behind the McDonalds of Sex; the woman who built a gay and S&M porn empire; the slumlord with two suitcases filled with gold and five wives; and the Catholic priest who flew too close to the neon sun and crashed and burned.

This tour is led by Robert Brenner, a native New Yorker and licensed New York City tour guide. Brenner squandered his misspent youth in the fleshpots of Times Square. He witnessed firsthand the demimonde in all their sordid glory. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he lived to tell the tale—and is unashamed. Brenner is also a member of the Guides Association of New York City, and a docent for the Municipal Art Society of New York City. He has led walking tours of Times Square for the Times Square Alliance, the New York Public Library, and Jane’s Walk.

On this tour we will explore the following questions:

·      How do you balance the desire for safety with the need for freedom?
·      Does Times Square belong to tourists or locals or both?
·      Can you clean up a neighborhood without washing away what makes it unique and interesting?
·      What role did racism and homophobia play in cleanup efforts?
·      What implications does the new Times Square have for the rest of the city?

This tour will show some graphic vintage photographs which may not be appropriate for all ages. The first tour will be on December 18th:

Gritty Old Times Square

Below are more pictures of places we will discover and discuss on this tour:

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One of  the last standing adult shop in Times Square

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One of  the last standing adult shop in Times Square

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Father Duffy’s Church: The Holy Cross Church

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The now abandoned Elk Hotel, a relic of what Times Square used to be

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The Times Square Theater, abandoned since the early 1990’s

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Times Square’s iconic NYPD outpost, which used to be an Army recruiting center

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Father Duffy’s statue in Times Square

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Times Square’s hidden in plain sight sound installation

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Remnants of the New York Times’ first of three headquarters in Times Square

Gritty Old Times Square

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