42nd Street (Manhattan)

42nd Street is a major crosstown street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, known for its theaters, especially near the intersection with Broadway at Times Square in Midtown. It is also the name of the region of the theater district (and, at times, the red-light district) near that intersection. The street has held a special place in New Yorkers' imaginations since at least the turn of the 20th century, and is the site of some of New York's best known buildings, including (east to west) the Headquarters of the United Nations, Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, New York Public Library, Times Square and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Route map:

42nd Street
42nd Street in New York
Looking west along 42nd Street from Seventh Avenue in 2004, including a marquee for a revival of the musical 42nd Street
Other name(s)Lincoln Highway (west of Broadway)
New 42nd Street (8th to 7th Avenues)
Maintained byNYCDOT
Length2.0 mi[1] (3.2 km)
LocationManhattan, New York City
Postal code10036, 10018, 10017, 10168
West end NY 9A (12th Avenue) in Hell's Kitchen
East end FDR Drive in Murray Hill / Midtown East
North43rd Street (west of 1st Avenue)
48th Street (east of 1st Avenue)
South41st Street (west of 6th Avenue)
40th Street (6th to 5th Avenues)
41st Street (east of 5th Avenue)
CommissionedMarch 1811
42nd St, NYC, Lyric Theatre, 1985
Grindhouse movie theaters on 42nd Street in 1985 before its renovation; the 200 block of W. 42nd Street; former Lyric Theatre facade and nearby buildings
Grand central Station Outside Night 2 crop
Grand Central Terminal at night, as seen from the west on 42nd Street
Chrysler Building, with its unique stainless-steel top, is one of the most distinctive buildings on 42nd Street
42e rue
East end of 42nd Street is very different in tone from the west; looking west from bridge at 1st Avenue. The Ford Foundation Building is visible in the right foreground.
LincolnHighwayTerminus 01
Sign marking the eastern terminus of the Lincoln Highway, which begins on 42nd Street and continues to San Francisco, California


Early history

During the American Revolutionary War, a cornfield near the present location of the New York Public Library Main Branch at 42nd Street was where General George Washington angrily attempted to rally his troops after the British landing at Kip's Bay, which scattered many of the American militiamen. Washington's attempt put him in danger of being captured, and his officers had to persuade him to leave. The rout eventually subsided into an orderly retreat.[2]

John Jacob Astor purchased a 70 acres (28 ha) farm in 1803 that ran from 42nd Street to 46th Street west of Broadway to the Hudson River.[3]

The street was designated by the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 that established the Manhattan street grid as one of 15 east-west streets that would be 100 feet (30 m) in width (while other streets were designated as 60 feet (18 m) in width).[4]

In 1835, the city's Street Committee, after receiving numerous complaints about lack of access for development above 14th Street, decided to open up all lots which had already been plotted on the city grid up to 42nd Street, which thus became – for a time – the northern boundary of the city.[5]

Cornelius Vanderbilt began the construction of Grand Central Depot in 1869 on 42nd Street at Fourth Avenue as the terminal for his Central, Hudson, Harlem and New Haven commuter rail lines, because city regulations required that trains be pulled by horse below 42nd Street.[6] The Depot, which opened in 1871, was replaced by Grand Central Terminal in 1913.

Between the 1870s and 1890s, 42nd Street became the uptown boundary of the mainstream theatre district, which started around 23rd Street, as the entertainment district of the Tenderloin gradually moved northward.[7]

20th century

The corner of 42nd Street and Broadway, at the southeast corner of Times Square, was the eastern terminus of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across the United States, which was conceived and mapped in 1913.

Lloyd Bacon and Busby Berkeley's 1933 film musical 42nd Street, starring 30s heartthrobs Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler, displays the bawdy and colorful mixture of Broadway denizens and lowlifes in Manhattan during the Depression. In 1980, it was turned into a successful Broadway musical which ran until 1989, and which was revived for a four-year run in 2001.[8] In the words of the Al Dubin and Harry Warren title song, on 42nd Street you can find:

Little nifties from the Fifties, innocent and sweet,
Sexy ladies from the Eighties who are indiscreet,
They're side by side, they're glorified,
Where the underworld can meet the elite
Naughty, gawdy, bawdy, sporty, Forty-second Street!

From the late 1950s until the late 1980s, 42nd Street, nicknamed the "Deuce", was the cultural center of American grindhouse theaters, which spawned an entire subculture. The book Sleazoid Express, a travelogue of the 42nd Street grindhouses and the films they showed, describes the unique blend of people who made up the theater-goers:

depressives hiding from jobs, sexual obsessives, inner-city people seeking cheap diversions, teenagers skipping school, adventurous couples on dates, couples-chasers peeking on them, people getting high, homeless people sleeping, pickpockets...[9]

While the street outside the theatres was populated with:

phony drug salesman ... low-level drug dealers, chain snatchers ... [j]unkies alone in their heroin/cocaine dreamworld ... predatory chickenhawks spying on underage trade looking for pickups ... male prostitutes of all ages ... [t]ranssexuals, hustlers, and closety gays with a fetishistic homo- or heterosexual itch to scratch ... It was common to see porn stars whose films were playing at the adult houses promenade down the block. ... Were you a freak? Not when you stepped onto the Deuce. Being a freak there would get you money, attention, entertainment, a starring part in a movie. Or maybe a robbery and a beating.[9]

For much of the mid and late 20th century, the area of 42nd Street near Times Square was home to activities often considered unsavory,[10] including peep shows.


In the early 1990s, city government encouraged a cleanup of the Times Square area. In 1990, the city government took over six of the historic theatres on the block of 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, and New 42nd Street, a not-for-profit organization, was formed to oversee their renovation and reuse, as well as to construct new theatres and a rehearsal space.

In 1993, Disney Theatrical Productions bought the New Amsterdam Theatre, which it renovated a few years later. It is now the flagship for Disney's theatrical productions in New York.

Since the mid-1990s, the block has again become home to mainstream theatres and several multi-screen mainstream movie theatres, along with shops, restaurants, hotels, and attractions such as Madame Tussauds wax museum and Ripley's Believe It or Not that draw millions to the city every year. This area is now co-signed as "New 42nd Street" to signify this change.

Notable places

(from East to West):


Every New York City Subway line that crosses 42nd Street has a stop on 42nd Street:

There are two subway lines under 42nd Street. The IRT 42nd Street Shuttle runs under 42nd Street between Broadway/Seventh Avenue (Times Square) and Park Avenue (Grand Central). The IRT Flushing Line curves from Eleventh Avenue to 41st Street, under which it runs until Fifth Avenue; shifts to 42nd Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues; and continues under the East River to Queens. Each line stops at Times Square and Grand Central; the Flushing Line also stops at Fifth Avenue.

In the past, every former IRT elevated line had a station at 42nd Street:

A fifth station extended over 42nd Street as a western spur from the Third Avenue Line to Grand Central Depot, later Grand Central Station, and finally Grand Central Terminal.

Additionally, MTA Regional Bus Operations's M42 bus runs the length of 42nd Street between the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises ferry terminal on the Hudson River and the headquarters of the United Nations on the East River. Its predecessor, the 42nd Street Crosstown Line streetcar, had used 42nd Street.

In popular culture

In addition, "forty-deuce" is street slang for Manhattan's former live peep shows district on 42nd Street.[12] The following works reference the phrase "forty-deuce":

See also



  1. ^ Google (August 31, 2015). "42nd Street (Manhattan)" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
  2. ^ Burrows & Wallace (1999), p. 260
  3. ^ Burrows & Wallace (1999), p. 338
  4. ^ Morris, Gouverneur, De Witt, Simeon, and Rutherford, John [sic] (March 1811) "Remarks Of The Commissioners For Laying Out Streets And Roads In The City Of New York, Under The Act Of April 3, 1807", Cornell University Library. Accessed June 27, 2016. "These streets are all sixty feet wide except fifteen, which are one hundred feet wide, viz.: Numbers fourteen, twenty-three, thirty-four, forty-two, fifty-seven, seventy-two, seventy-nine, eighty-six, ninety-six, one hundred and six, one hundred and sixteen, one hundred and twenty-five, one hundred and thirty-five, one hundred and forty-five, and one hundred and fifty-five--the block or space between them being in general about two hundred feet."
  5. ^ Burrows & Wallace (1999), p. 579
  6. ^ Burrows & Wallace (1999), p. 944
  7. ^ Burrows & Wallace (1999), pp. 1149–50
  8. ^ "42nd Street" on the Internet Broadway Database
  9. ^ a b Landis, Bill and Clifford, Michelle. Sleazoid Express: A Mind-Twisting Tour Through the Grindhouse Cinema of Times Square New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. ISBN 9780743215831. pp. 2–7
  10. ^ Blumenthal, Ralph, "A Times Square Revival?" The New York Times Magazine (December 27, 1981). Accessed September 6, 2010
  11. ^ Levine DB (September 2007). "The hospital for the ruptured and crippled moves East on 42nd street 1912 to 1925". HSS Journal. 3 (2): 131–6. doi:10.1007/s11420-007-9051-6. PMC 2504267. PMID 18751783. The new Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled was built on 42nd Street between First and Second avenue. It is currently the location of the Ford Foundation.
  12. ^ https://variety.com/1998/legit/reviews/forty-deuce-1200453844/


Further reading

  • Bianco, Anthony (2004). Ghosts of 42nd Street: A History of America's Most Infamous Block. New York: HarperCollins Books, ISBN 0-688-17089-7. (A detailed history that focuses primarily on the Times Square Theater District from the beginning of the 20th century through its successful restoration and in the late 20th century.)
  • Eliot, Marc (2001). Down 42nd Street: Sex, money, culture and politics at the crossroads of the world. New York: Warner Books, ISBN 0-446-52571-5. (A detailed history that focuses on the social, political and cultural aspects of the street, primarily between 7th and 8th Avenues.)

External links

Lincoln Highway
Previous state:
New Jersey
New York Next state:
330 West 42nd Street

The McGraw Hill Building at 330 West 42nd Street is a building 33 stories and 485 feet (148 m) high, located in the Hell's Kitchen section of Manhattan, New York City.

500 Fifth Avenue

500 Fifth Avenue, located between West 42nd and 43rd Streets in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, is a 60-floor, 697-foot (213 m), 659,132 sq ft office tower built from 1929 to 1931 and designed by the firm of Shreve, Lamb & Harmon in the Art Deco style. Constructed for Walter J. Salmon, Sr., it is adjacent to Bryant Park and the Salmon Tower Building, also built for Salmon.

It was the original transmitter site for CBS Radio's New York City FM station (W67NY, later called WCBS-FM) in 1941.The building was designated a New York City Landmark in 2010. It is currently the 69th tallest building in New York.

American Airlines Theatre

The American Airlines Theatre, originally the Selwyn Theatre, is a historic Italian Renaissance style Broadway theatre in New York City built in 1918. It was designed by George Keister and built by the Selwyn brothers. Used for musicals and other dramatic performances it was eventually converted for film. It was used briefly as a visitor's center but stood vacant for years until a 1997 renovation and restoration. It is located at 227 West 42nd Street.

Apollo Theatre (42nd Street)

The Apollo Theatre was a Broadway theatre whose entrance was located at 223 West 42nd Street in Manhattan, New York City, while the theatre proper was on 43rd Street. It was demolished in 1996 and provided part of the site for the new Ford Center, now known as the Lyric Theatre.

Daily News Building

The Daily News Building, also known as The News Building, is a 476-foot (145 m) skyscraper located at 220 East 42nd Street between Second and Third Avenues in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The building has 36 floors.

Empire Theatre (42nd Street)

The Empire Theatre is a former Broadway theatre located on 42nd Street in Manhattan, New York City.

Laurie Beechman Theatre

The Laurie Beechman Theatre (formerly the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theater Bar) is an 80-seat dinner theater in the basement of the West Bank Cafe at 407 West 42nd Street in the Manhattan Plaza apartment complex just west of Times Square.

The theater is named for Laurie Beechman, who was a Broadway singer/actor and cabaret performer.

Liberty Theatre

The Liberty Theatre was a Broadway theater from 1904 to 1933, located at 236 West 42nd Street in New York City. It was built by the partnership of Klaw and Erlanger.From 1933 until the late 1980s the Liberty operated continuously as a movie theatre. In 1992 the then vacant theatre was purchased by the City of New York along with many other properties as part of the New 42nd Street renovation project.

In 1996 it was used for a staged reading of T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land, with actress Fiona Shaw, directed by Deborah Warner. The New York Times review described the theater as "derelict". The facade of the Liberty theater was later absorbed into Ripley's Odditorium, which is part of the Forest City Enterprises entertainment complex.In 2011, renovations were completed and the former Liberty Theatre auditorium was converted for use as a Famous Dave's restaurant. The main auditorium space is now a rental event space, with the restaurant portion along 42nd Street operating as the Liberty Diner.From March 2015 to November 2015, Cynthia von Buhler's Speakeasy Dollhouse: Ziegfeld's Midnight Frolic was staged as an immersive play in the theater. The story investigates the death of silent film star and Ziegfeld Girl Olive Thomas.

Lyric Theatre (1903 New York City)

The Lyric Theatre was a prominent Broadway theatre built in 1903 in Manhattan, New York City in the 42nd Street Theater District. It was one of the few New York houses having two formal entrances, at 213 West 42nd Street and 214-26 West 43rd Street. In 1934, it was converted into a movie theatre which it remained until closing in 1992. In 1996, its interior was demolished and the space was combined with that of the former Apollo Theatre to create the Ford Center, which has since taken the Lyric Theatre name. Both the 42nd and 43rd Street facades of the original Lyric were preserved and today form the front and back entrances of the modern Lyric Theatre.

New 42nd Street

The New 42nd Street is a not-for-profit organization based in Manhattan, New York City. In 1990, the New 42nd Street was formed to oversee the redevelopment of seven neglected and historic theatres on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, and to restore the block to a desirable tourist destination in Manhattan. The theatres were the Apollo Theatre, the Empire Theatre, the Liberty Theatre, the Lyric Theatre, the Selwyn Theatre, the Times Square Theatre, and the Victory Theater.

The Victory Theater was the first theater on the block to be restored, and reopened as the off-Broadway New Victory Theater in 1995. The New Victory Theater is programmed by the New 42nd Street with a focus on family entertainment, including international productions of theater, circus, puppetry, opera and dance for kids of all ages. The theater's programming is complemented by an award-winning educational program in New York City schools.

The Apollo and Lyric theatres were demolished, but sections were preserved for incorporation into a new 1,900-seat Broadway musical venue. On December 26, 1997, it opened as The Ford Center for the Performing Arts with the New York premiere of Ragtime. Subsequently, it was renamed the Hilton Theatre and later the Foxwoods Theatre. Following a takeover by the Ambassador Theatre Group, it has taken the Lyric Theatre name.

The Empire and Liberty became parts of an entertainment complex built by Forest City Ratner which includes the New York branch of Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium. The shell of the Empire was physically lifted and moved closer to Eighth Avenue, becoming the lobby of an AMC Theatres cinema, which opened in 2000.

The Selwyn Theatre became the 750-seat American Airlines Theatre, reopening on July 27, 2000, following renovations, and is currently one of Roundabout Theatre Company's Broadway venues.

In 2011, Broadway 4D Theaters, LLC leased the Times Square Theater for a new multimedia Broadway-themed 4-D attraction; however, the project was cancelled. In 2018, developers announced the venue would be converted to retail space that would retain the proscenium, boxes, and many elements from the original structure. The work would take approximately two years at a cost of $100 million.The New 42nd Street also operates the New 42nd Street Building at 229 West 42nd Street, designed by the firm of Platt Byard Dovell, which opened in 2000 and is home to the New 42nd Street Studios as well as The Duke on 42nd Street – a 199-seat black box theater named for Doris Duke – and three floors of office spaces used by seven non-profit performing arts organizations, including the New 42nd Street.

New Victory Theater

The New Victory Theater is an off-Broadway theater located at 209 West 42nd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues, in Midtown Manhattan. The New Victory presents work for children and family audiences year-round, programming a full season of theater, dance, puppetry, circus, opera, physical theater and other types of performance art from around the world. In 2012, The New Victory Theater received a special Drama Desk Award for “providing enchanting, sophisticated theater that appeals to the child in all of us, and for nurturing a love of theater in young people.”


Nungessers is the name of the confluence of roads that meet at the Hudson and Bergen county line at North Bergen and Fairview in northeastern New Jersey. The area is the former site of the Nungesser's Gutenberg Racetrack, a late 19th-century gaming and gambling venue. The neighborhood just south of Nungesser's is called the Racetrack Section and the municipality of Guttenberg is nearby. A White Castle, an early drive-in fast-food chain, originally built in the 1930s has long been a landmark in the neighborhood, as has adjacent North Hudson Park.

One Grand Central Place

One Grand Central Place (formerly known as the Lincoln Building) is a high-rise office building located at 60 East 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, opposite Grand Central Terminal.

Pearl Theatre (New York City)

The Pearl Theatre Company, commonly referred to as the Pearl Theatre, was a theatre in New York City. It was established in Chelsea by Shepard Sobel in 1984, with David Hyde Pierce part of the company's first season. The company focused on producing classic works performed by their resident acting company. After moving to St Mark's Place and then to City Center, the company moved in 2012 into their first permanent home, a 160-seat theatre at 555 West 42nd Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenue in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan.

After 33 seasons, the company closed in June 2017, filing for bankruptcy. Members of the company then formed The Resident Acting Company, performing a similar repertory program at the Players Club in Gramercy Park South.

Pershing Square Signature Center

The Pershing Square Signature Center is a complex of three Off-Broadway theatres in the Theatre Row section of West 42nd Street in New York City. It is on the first floors of the 43-floor MiMa Building apartment complex. While multiple theatre companies use the complex its primary tenant and operator is the Signature Theatre Company. A major subtenant is The New Group.The theatre derives its name from the Pershing Square Foundation which donated $25 million to the theatre. The complex is more than a mile west of Manhattan's Pershing Square which is also on 42nd Street.

In October 2008, Signature announced the building of the Pershing Square Signature Center. Designed by Frank Gehry Architects, the Center comprises the three theatres, two rehearsal studios, a café and bar, bookstore, and offices all on one level. It opened in 2012.In 2018 it showed the musical Be More Chill on its Irene Diamond Stage.

State University of New York College of Optometry

The State University of New York College of Optometry was established in 1971 as result of a legislative mandate of New York in the United States. It is located in midtown Manhattan in New York City in what was originally the Aeolian Building, which was built in 1912 for the Aeolian Company, a piano manufacturer. It is a center for research on vision and the only school of optometry in New York.

The College grants a professional degree, the Doctor of Optometry (O.D.), and two academic degrees, the Master of Science (M.S.) in Vision Science and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Vision Science. Continuing education courses for practicing optometrists are also provided by the College.

The University Eye Center provides eye care, corrective lenses, and vision therapy to the public. The University Eye Center is one of the largest outpatient eye clinics in the country, with over 73,000 patient encounters in FY 2012-13.The Optometric Center of New York, established in 1956, is a foundation affiliated with the College to support vision science research, patient care, scholarships, and fellowships at the College and its clinical facilities.

The College offers residencies to optometrists from around the world including specializations in subfields of optometry.

The College enrolls between 80-100 optometry students per year in the professional degree program. About 20 of these students also seek an M.S. degree in Vision Science across the four years. The College also offers a Ph.D. in Vision Science and provides twelve graduate stipends per year.

Research and graduate programs at the college are administered through the Graduate Center for Vision Research, which currently receives nearly $4,000,000 in annual funding for research grants. Clinical research is conducted through the Clinical Vision Research Center.

The College is a member of the SUNY Eye Institute.

Theatre Row (New York City)

Theatre Row is an entertainment district of Off Broadway theatres on 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan west of Ninth Avenue. The space originally referred to a 1977 redevelopment project to convert adult entertainment venues into theatres between 9th and Tenth Avenues on the south side of 42nd Street. However with the success of the district the name is often used to describe any theatre on either side of the street from Ninth Avenue to the Hudson River as more theatres have been built along the street.

From east to west, theatres along Theatre Row are:

Laurie Beechman Theatre

Theatre Row Building, housing six small theatres: the Beckett, Acorn, Clurman, Kirk, Lion and Studio theatres

Playwrights Horizons

Stage 42 (formerly the Little Shubert Theatre)

Pershing Square Signature Center

Castillo Theatre

Pearl Theatre

Theatre Row Building

The Theatre Row Building is a complex of five Off-Broadway theatres at 410 W 42nd Street on Theatre Row in New York City.

The building is owned by the 501(c)(3) organization non-profit 42nd Street Development Corporation and is the center piece of an effort to transform the adult entertainment district on West 42nd Street between Ninth and 10th Avenues into an Off Broadway theatre district.

Times Square Theater

The Times Square Theater is a former Broadway theater, located at 217 West 42nd Street, Manhattan, in New York City.

Streets of Manhattan

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.