Times Square in the 1980s. (Getty)

In the late 1980s*, this television segment (produced by produced by WNET/THIRTEEN) featured a conversation between Robert Lipsyte, chairman of the City Planning Commission Carl Weisbrod, AIA's Paul Segel, and Brendan Gill, architecture critic for The New Yorker. The four discuss the proposed 42nd Street Redevelopment Project, while specifically focusing on one troublesome block in the seedy area. In 1988 the NY Times noted that the project was believed to be "the largest urban renewal effort ever undertaken in this country."

In the program, Lipsyte calls this area a "venal Disneyland," and starts things off by positing that it may need to be killed in order to be saved. Gill responds, "42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenue... it's been the worst block in New York City for almost half a century now. The single worst block in terms of reported crime. It is the center for runaways, for drug addiction and sales, a thousand drug arrests were reported on this one block alone last year. There's a concentration of sex related businesses, fast food restaurants, pinball arcades, hole-in-the-wall grocery stores that sell nothing but beer, condoms, and knives. Many of them will go out of business now."

After this, the city was mired in a recession from 1989 through the end of 1991, giving those behind this project some time to overhaul their "much-criticized development plan."

*While this YouTube caption says 1984, the footage shows it's 1988/1989.