Tonight on NYC Life you can catch the world television premiere of Against All Odds: Transforming 42nd Street, a new documentary created by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) that tells the story of how the famous thoroughfare changed from being the heart of the city’s thriving theater district to the city’s center of vice and crime and back again.
42nd Street between 8th and 7th Avenues was a block that people used to be afraid to walk down. While the area had been declining steadily since the 1930s, by the 1970s it reached an all time low. Times Square was the center of the seedy adult entertainment industry, as depicted in the HBO series The Deuce, and the nefarious goings-ons that came with it led to a surge in crime. At an advanced screening of Against All Odds on Thursday night, Robert A.M Stern, the founder of Robert A.M. Stern Architects, described 42nd street as “a black hole in the middle” of New York City at the time. The poor reputation of the area blocked further development west and came to embody the general decline of New York City.
In the 1980s, things started to turn around as project leaders, real estate developers, architects, law enforcement officials, and historic preservationists came together to take on one of the “largest commercial government projects ever undertaken in the state of New York.” The redevelopment of 42nd street allowed the area to reconnect to its history as a meeting place for New Yorkers and a center of high-quality entertainment that is now a world famous destination travelled through by millions of people every year. A perfect example of the changes brought about by the project is the story of the historic New Victory Theater where the advance screening of the documentary was held. The theater was once the only XXX porn house on the block and today? It is a theater for children.
Against All Odds premieres tonight at 10:00pm on NYC Life, channel 25 on most cable providers. You can watch the trailer above and read in-depth interviews with those featured in the documentary on the film’s website here!
Next, check out Vintage Photos: The Evolution of Times Square from 1898 to Today