Associate Professor of American Studies
Ph.D. Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A.
This article examines efforts to order Times Square during the first five decades of its existence as a high profile commercial centre. Between 1892 and 1954, New York City powerholders launched a number of clean up campaigns that sought to minimize the working class attributes of the district and to transform it into a mainstream consumption space. These campaigns targeted commercial sex, gay nightclubs, burlesque theatres, street vendors, "disorderly" people, and honky tonks. The strategies used to order Times Square included exclusionary zoning, moral campaigns and restrictive licensing, as well as the enforcement of curfews, building codes, anti-loitering legislation, and indecency statutes. Despite these efforts, the working class character of Times Square persisted, even though the operation of many working class establishments was disrupted and the freedom of ordinary people to frequent the district was compromised. Ironically, the 1954 rezoning of Times Square, which outlawed the opening of new arcades, engendered the rise of sex shops. The article is available here.
The Australasian Journal of American Studies is the official journal of the Australian and New Zealand American Studies Association and is published twice a year, in July and December.
A sequel to this article appears in chapter 3 of the book Spatial Regulation in New York City: From Urban Renewal to Zero Tolerance (New York: Routledge, 2011).