The current battle over painted ladies and aggressive Elmos in Times Square is part of a long history of turbulence in the crossroads of the world. While the Daily News and NY Post have been hyperventilating about the topless Times Square of 2015, this ABC report from 1992 reminds us how dramatically the area has transformed. The segment is part profile on the "Mayor of 42nd Street" Richard Falk, and part snapshot of a changing Times Square, in which reporter Judd Rose declares: "Times, and Times Square, have changed."
At the time, Dick Falk was moving out of his longtime office in the area, after being the only holdout left in the entire 12 story building where he ran his PR business. The developers eventually won, and tore the building down.
In the segment, Rose tells Falk, "The glamorous 42nd Street that you promoted for all these years... look around, I see runaways, I see hookers, I see the homeless." But Falk has a well-spun retort ready: "Why do they come here? It must be comfortable, they don't come here because it's bad, they come here because they like it."
Alas, Rose declares that "the sad and simple truth is that this fabled avenue faded long ago." At the time, the state of New York was determined to fix that, and had a $2.5 billion redevelopment plan in the works (new mayor Rudy Giuliani would subsequently take credit for the revitalization of Times Square). For more on all that, head over here for a much longer discussion on what the NY Times called "the largest urban renewal effort ever undertaken in this country." [h/t Reddit]