7. Holy Cross Church
The Holy Cross Church on 42nd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues has borne witness to all of the depravities of Times Square through the decades and has stood as a place of respite from the surrounding debauchery. The church was built in 1868 and is the oldest structure on 42nd Street. It is most famously associated with Reverend Francis P. Duffy and sometimes referred to as Father Duffy’s Church, though many of the churches pastors have been active in the efforts to clean up the neighborhood. The church posed a threat to many establishments, including Show World Center, when Giuliani’s 500 feet rule was proposed.
In addition to being the pastor of Holy Cross Church, Father Duffy is most well known for his position as chaplain of the 69th Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard, aka the “Fighting Irish.” After World War I, where the regiment fought on the front lines in France, Duffy became pastor of the Hells Kitchen congregation. The neighborhood was a hotbed for corruption and gang activity since the 19th century. The nearby Duffy Square, which features a statue of Duffy looming over the red stairs of the TKTS booth, is also named for this famous figure.