Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Money Jungle

Money Jungle: Imagining the New Times Square

Benjamin Chesluk
Photographs by Maggie Hopp
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 248
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Money Jungle
    Book Description:

    Description: For more than a century, Times Square has mesmerized the world with the spectacle of its dazzling supersigns, its theaters, and its often-seedy nightlife. New York City's iconic crossroads has drawn crowds of revelers, thrill-seekers, and other urban denizens, not to mention lavish outpourings of advertising and development money.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4381-9
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Brilliant Corners: The Redevelopment of Times Square
    (pp. 1-22)

    In the late nineteenth century, real estate speculators and theater entrepreneurs remade what was then Longacre Square, an unfashionably rough area of tenements, bars, brothels, factories, and slaughterhouses, into a glamorous center for upscale nightlife and mass spectacle. Since then, Times Square has been, and still is, many things. It has been a center for all kinds of performance, including music, theater, movies, vaudeville, and burlesque. It has been a district of boarding houses and residential hotels, some cheap and some expensive. It has been an intersection for pedestrians, subways, and automobiles. It has been a place where millions gather...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Magnificent Spectacle: Real Estate, Theater, Advertising, and the History of Times Square
    (pp. 23-47)

    Times Square is a peculiar place, and has been for more than a hundred years: a troubling and exciting symbol of the ambiguities and apparent paradoxes of modern urban life; a monument to the possibilities and contradictions of consumer society and of modernity itself. This place is both a symbol and a product of the power of the speculative market in real estate that created New York City. It has always been a monument to inauthenticity, to commercialism, to the power of symbols over substance—“a testing ground of limits.”¹ Times Square is a testament to the radical undermining of...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The New Spaces of Times Square: Commerce, Social Control, and the Built Environment
    (pp. 48-80)

    Like anyone involved in creating or transforming urban spaces, Times Square’s redevelopers were faced with two seemingly incompatible ideas of the purpose of public space in the city. On the one hand, there was the ideology of democratic access and enjoyment. Part of the ideology of “public” space is that it must embody inclusive democracy. These spaces must seem open to all, without prejudice. The redevelopers could not openly select people for inclusion or exclusion. On the other hand, there was the impulse toward imposing respectability and control, in order to guarantee profit. To make the real estate of Times...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The Midtown Community Court: Intimacy and Power in an Experimental Courtroom
    (pp. 81-95)

    One thing that made the redevelopment of Times Square so strikingly different from typical urban renewal projects was its collection of self-conscious, highly publicized efforts to “reach out” to marginal groups and include them in its transformation, rather than just exclude them from the area. These efforts represented a new strategy in the redevelopers’ toolkit—a way to lessen negative publicity while still cleansing their new built spaces and surfaces of the public presence of poverty and filth. They also shed light on the redevelopment’s transformation of the meanings of urban citizenship.

    Urban planning and architecture have always drawn connections,...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Times Square Ink.: Redevelopment of the Self
    (pp. 96-133)

    The Midtown Community Court drew on the real estate capital and interests of the Times Square redevelopment to reorganize the rules by which an urban court judges, punishes, and rehabilitates. The Community Court reorganized the formal institution of the courtroom; it set out to redefine the relationships within the courtroom between defendant, judge, prosecution, defense, police, and community. At the same time, the Community Court also set out to redefine the very identity of the people charged there. The place where this mission was made most explicit in everyday practice was in what was perhaps the court’s most personalized and...

  10. CHAPTER SIX “Visible Signs of a City Out of Control”: Images of Order and Disorder in Police-Community Dialogue
    (pp. 134-164)

    How did everyday citizens relate to the redevelopment of Times Square and the larger socioeconomic shifts it represented? One place I began to answer this question was in the new institutions aimed at fostering community-police dialogue in the adjacent neighborhood known as Clinton or Hell’s Kitchen. These were places where community groups gathered to communicate directly with the NYPD or other representatives of city government. These dialogues showed the complicated dynamics of building an image of “order” to fit the radical transformation of the area, catalyzed by the Times Square redevelopment.

    The New York Police Department had long played a...

  11. CHAPTER SEVEN “It Doesn’t Exist, But They’re Selling It”: The Debates over “Air Rights”
    (pp. 165-187)

    People in New York City and elsewhere didn’t simply accept the new built environments of Times Square and Forty-second Street. They wondered over them, debated them, applauded them, critiqued them, or made a point of avoiding them completely. Dozens of New Yorkers I met during and after my fieldwork remarked to me, “Times Square? I never go there. Isn’t it all, like, Disney now?” In general, there was a widespread feeling that the changes in Times Square reflected broader social changes, maybe for the better, more likely for the worse. The most poignant (and most problematic) of these critiques was...

  12. CHAPTER EIGHT Conclusion: The Meanings of Times Square
    (pp. 188-196)

    The New Times Square was a place where people struggled to deal with the fundamental questions of modern urban life: How do we sustain ourselves and find meaning in an unstable world? How do we live in spaces of the modern city, the ever-redeveloping city, where every building is ready to be torn down and rebuilt, where everything we experience in our everyday lives feels as though it is about to change? How do we reconcile the human drive for roots, connections, memory, and meaning with an economic climate of change, competition, and transformation? How do we form asense...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 197-216)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 217-230)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-232)
  16. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)