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Times Square Midtown Vice Map-Office of Midtown Planning and Development-Mayor John Lindsay-Massage Parlors-Prostitution-NYC-2

In 1973, things were pretty dicey in New York City. The economy was tanking, crime was up, and Times Square was nothing like it is today. In fact, in 1973 the Office of Midtown Planning and Development was created by Mayor John Lindsay to begin the “cleaning up” of Times Square and vicinity. First on the list of attack were massage parlors, seen as a breeding ground for the prostitution industry that was openly operating on street corners. Lindsay proclaimed that “phony massage parlors [were] nothing more than fronts for houses of prostitution.”

This map by the Office of Midtown Planning and Development locates the massage parlors, spas, “presumed prostitution hotels,” single room occupancy hotels (SRO), peep shows, live burlesque shows, and adult book and video stores in Midtown.  

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Times Square Municipal Art Society CompetitionMosaic of 6 entry boards for the Municipal Art Society competition. (Credits: William F Schacht & Cassandra Mcgowen, Richard Haas & Judith DiMaio, Gilbert Gorski, Frank Lupo & Daniel Rowen, Lee Dunnette, Jaime Gonzales-Goldstein & Martin Maurin, George Ranalli, Paul Bentel & Carol Rusche)

Now through January 2015, the Skyscraper Museum is presenting the exhibit Times Square 1984: The Postmodern Moment. The exhibit takes visitors back to the seedy, crime ridden, nostalgic Times Square of the late 1970s early 1980s. In 1984, the Municipal Art Society and the National Endowment for the Arts organized an alternative “ideas competition” for Times Square with a $10,000 prize, in reaction to a critically panned proposal by Philip Johnson and John Burgee. The request for proposals drew more than five hundred entrants and widespread press attention. The New York Times recently highlighted this new exhibit in a slideshow highlighting 20 of the boards museum director Carol Willis was able to track down.

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Abandoned Platform-Level-Times Square-Port Authority-A-C-E-Aqueduct Racetrack Line-LIRR-8Image by Peter Dougherty via NYCSubway.org

We’ve mentioned the abandoned level below Times Square before in our piece about abandoned subway levels and platforms in New York City. But this is the first time we’re featuring some images of what it looked like when it was operating and after some years of abandonment.

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The New York City subway carries many secrets, like any extensive system that was built over time. But the NYC subway also comes with it quite a bit of lore–from its urban explorers who have explored every nook of its vastness, the technological feat it was to build in some of the toughest Manhattan schist, and its evolution from high-class experiment to mass ridership.

No list of subway secrets can be complete, so we see this article as an evolving entity. We’ve started with our favorite secrets but encourage you all to comment and Tweet at us (@untappedcities) with other hidden gems. Special thanks to Matt Litwack, author of Beneath the Streets: The Hidden Relics of New York’s Subway System for contributing his finds to this piece.

1. The Many Abandoned Levels and Platforms of the NYC Subway System

Disused platform and subway entrance at Chamber Street

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Our recent fun map about the farmhouse that moved from the Upper East Side to Greenwich Village reminded us of all the other buildings in NYC that were literally picked up and relocated. Here’s a list of these migrants and their stories!

1. The Empire Theater on 42nd Street

Empire Theater-AMC-Times Square-42nd Street-Moved-NYC

Image via Cryptome 

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Sharknado-Untapped Cities-Film Locations-NYC-SYFY.mp4 - VLC media player 7312014 30605 PM

This could be the reason so many parts of the world hate us. We do not mean to spoil the party, but for the second year in a row, we are left flabbergasted by the amount of attention Sharknado gets both in online and social media. Sure we can all agree that Sharknado 2: The Second One is not a good movie, because that’s the point. Besides being bad, this movie is just boring. But because we love you guys so much, we took one for the team and we paid enough attention to give you the NYC film locations used for the Syfy original movie Sharknado 2: The Second One. (more…)