Cover image for Down 42nd Street : sex, money, culture, and politics at the crossroads of the world
Down 42nd Street : sex, money, culture, and politics at the crossroads of the world
Eliot, Marc.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
xvii, 315 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F128.67.F7 E44 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"The drama begins at the dawn of America's revolution in the midst of a pivotal battle against the British, led by a defiant George Washington, on what would eventually become Bryant Park. It continues through the era of elegant aqueduct promenades and the inevitable encroachment upon the street by Wall Street's power financiers, even as the city's most ruthless Irish street gangs defend their home turf from the clutches of the corporate interlopers." "By the turn of the twentieth century, 42nd Street has been completely reconfigured into two distinct sections - a business district to the east built around Grand Central Terminal, and a show business Rialto on the west coexisting alongside glamorous brothels." "After World War II the West Side of 42nd Street - the southern border of Times Square and the legendary "crossroads of the world" - had deteriorated into the nations ground zero for hard drugs, prostitution, and violent street crime, setting the stage for one of the most dramatic and audacious gambits ever attempted by any city government. Down 42nd Street presents the never-before-told inside story of what many considered the world's most hopelessly decadent boulevard."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Author Notes

Marc Eliot is a New York Times bestselling author and American biographer. He has written over a dozen books on the media and popular culture including the biographies of Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Walt Disney and Bruce Springsteen, and Clint Eastwood. His writing has also appeared in several publications including L.A. Weekly and California Magazine.

Eliot lives in New York and Los Angeles.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Best-selling biographer Eliot takes us on a walk down New York City's Forty-second Street, providing historical perspective and insight into the roles played in its development by many famous politicians and celebrities. The author traces the events that make the two-and-one-half-mile trek from the East River to the Hudson River a fascinating journey, from the East Side, which is the daytime home of industry giants, to west of Times Square, an area known for sex, drugs, and lack of police presence. Three fascinating events are explored in depth: the battle to keep Grand Central Station from the wrecking ball; how attracting Disney led to the revitalization of the theater district; and the convoluted tale over many years of politicians, Mob bosses, society figures, and vested interests who struggled to dominate the West Side, which was as colorful as it was deadly. For all those who love New York or are interested in city economics, planning, and development, this narrative proves that truth can be more compelling than fiction. --Mary Whaley

Publisher's Weekly Review

A rambunctious social and political history of Times Square and "the deuce" street slang for 42nd Street covers a lot of territory, but makes its points with wit and an insider's keen insight. Eliot, co-author of Erin Brockovitch's forthcoming advice book Take It from Me! and of Barry White's Love Unlimited, piles up fascinating historic details, from Revolutionary War battles on the nascent site of 42nd Street to the building of Grand Central Terminal; from the growth of New York's theater district to how the business-oriented Committee of 14 attacked prostitution, censored theaters and nearly killed Broadway from 1904 to 1930. Explaining how the street became famous for sophistication and then for sex, grime and crime, Eliot is best when focusing on the economic developments that shaped the area: Vanderbilt bullying city officials to build Grand Central; Ed Koch's deals with developers for redevelopment in the 1980s that destroyed many historic theaters; the Gambino crime syndicate's lost claim on the area to "a rodent of a different sort" the Disney corporation. Comfortable and conversant with a wide range of cultural artifacts and events (Dead End Kids movies, the changing censorship laws of the 1950s and '60s, changing fast food habits of New Yorkers), Eliot paints a lively portrait of urban life. While the book would have been helped by drawing upon newer, groundbreaking critical works such as Samuel R. Delaney's Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, it does present a popular and engaging look at "the crossroads of the world." (Nov. 19) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Dramatis Personaep. xi
Part 1 At the Crossroadsp. 1
Part 2 The City Primevalp. 47
Part 3 When You Wish Upon a Streetp. 205
Epiloguep. 268
Bibliographyp. 279
Notesp. 283
Acknowledgmentsp. 295
Indexp. 301