42nd Street (Manhattan)
|Lincoln Highway (west of Broadway)|
New 42nd Street (8th to 7th Avenues)
|Length||2.0 mi (3.2 km)|
|Location||Manhattan, New York City|
|Postal code||10036, 10018, 10017, 10168|
|West end||NY 9A (12th Avenue) in Hell's Kitchen|
|East end||FDR Drive in Murray Hill / Midtown East|
|North||43rd Street (west of 1st Avenue)|
48th Street (east of 1st Avenue)
|South||41st Street (west of 6th Avenue)|
40th Street (6th to 5th Avenues)
41st Street (east of 5th Avenue)
42nd Street is a major crosstown street in the New York City borough of Manhattan, spanning the entire breadth of Midtown Manhattan, from Turtle Bay at the East River, to Hell's Kitchen at the Hudson River on the West Side. The street hosts some of New York's best known landmarks, including (from east to west) the headquarters of the United Nations, the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library Main Branch, Times Square, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
The street is known for its theaters, especially near the intersection with Broadway at Times Square, and as such is also the name of the region of the theater district (and, at times, the red-light district) near that intersection.
During the American Revolutionary War, a cornfield near 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue 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.
The street was designated by the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 that established the Manhattan street grid as one of 15 crosstown (east-west) streets that would be 100 feet (30 m) in width, while other streets were designated as 60 feet (18 m) in width.
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.
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. 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.
Early 20th century
42nd Street was developed relatively late compared to other crosstown thoroughfares such as 14th Street and 23rd Street, which had grown during the American Civil War, and 57th Street, which became prominent in the 1890s. It was only after the beginning of the 20th century that the street saw entertainment venues being developed around Times Square and upscale office space around Grand Central Terminal.
The corner of 42nd Street and Broadway, at the southeast corner of Times Square, is the eastern terminus of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across the United States, which was conceived and mapped in 1913.
An elevated railroad line, running above East 42nd Street from Third Avenue to the Grand Central station, was closed in 1923, leading to the development of such structures as the Chanin Building and 110 East 42nd Street west of Lexington Avenue. The street east of Lexington Avenue continued to be made up of mostly low-rise buildings; these blocks were adjacent to the Second Avenue and Third Avenue elevated lines, and accordingly, initially considered unattractive for major development. By the 1920s, The New York Times reported that several high-rise developments were "radically changing the old-time conditions" along East 42nd Street, including the Chanin, Lincoln, Chrysler, and Daily News Buildings, as well as Tudor City.
West 42nd Street, meanwhile, prospered as a theater and entertainment district until World War II. According to historian Robert A. M. Stern, West 42nd Street's decline started in 1946, when the streetcars on 42nd Street were replaced by less efficient buses.
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. In the words of the Al Dubin and Harry Warren title song, on 42nd Street one could 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...
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.
East 42nd Street was, for some time, spared from similar decline, especially east of Third Avenue, where the development of the United Nations supported a thriving business district and prompted the widening of that section of 42nd Street. The demolition of the Second and Third Avenue elevated lines by the 1950s led to increased development on East 42nd Street, such as annexes to the Chrysler and Daily News Buildings, as well as the construction of the Socony–Mobil and Ford Foundation Buildings. By the 1960s, East 42nd Street between Park and Second Avenues contained more headquarters of industries than any other place in the United States except Chicago or Pittsburgh. During this time, there was much development outside the rundown entertainment district of Times Square, somewhat offsetting the perception of that part of 42nd Street.
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. 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.
In the 1990s, the renovation of Bryant Park between Fifth and Sixth Avenues, as well as the renovations of Times Square and Grand Central Terminal, led to increases in office occupancy along both sections of 42nd Street.
(from East to West):
- Headquarters of the United Nations, First Avenue
- Tudor City apartments, First Avenue
- Ford Foundation Building, between First and Second Avenues, former site of the Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled (now known as the Hospital for Special Surgery)
- Daily News Building, Second Avenue
- Socony–Mobil Building, between Third and Lexington Avenues
- Chrysler Building, Lexington Avenue
- Chanin Building, Lexington Avenue
- 110 East 42nd Street (formerly Bowery Savings Bank Building, now Cipriani S.A.), between Lexington and Park Avenues
- Pershing Square Building, Park Avenue
- Pershing Square, Park Avenue
- Grand Central Terminal, Park Avenue
- One Grand Central Place, Vanderbilt Avenue
- One Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt Avenue
- 500 Fifth Avenue
- New York Public Library Main Branch, Fifth Avenue
- W. R. Grace Building, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
- Salmon Tower Building, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
- Aeolian Building, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
- Bryant Park, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
- Shayne's Emporium, west of Sixth Avenue
- Bank of America Tower, Sixth Avenue
- Bush Tower, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues
- 4 Times Square, at Broadway
- The Knickerbocker Hotel, at Broadway
- One Times Square, the building from which the ball drops on New Year's Eve, Broadway and Seventh Avenue
- Times Square Tower, Broadway and Seventh Avenue
- 3 Times Square, at Seventh Avenue
- 5 Times Square, at Seventh Avenue
- New Amsterdam Theatre, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues
- New Victory Theatre, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues
- American Airlines Theatre and New 42nd Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues
- Candler Building, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues
- Empire Theatre, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues
- Port Authority Bus Terminal, at Eighth Avenue
- Eleven Times Square, at Eighth Avenue
- 330 West 42nd Street, formerly McGraw-Hill Building, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues
- Holy Cross Church, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues
- Theatre Row, between Ninth and Eleventh Avenues
- Silver Towers apartments, at Eleventh Avenue
- Atelier Skyscraper Condominium, between Eleventh and Twelfth Avenue
- Circle Line Sightseeing Cruises ferry terminal, Twelfth Avenue
- Times Square–42nd Street/Port Authority Bus Terminal (1, 2, 3, 7, <7>, A, C, E, N, Q, R, W, and S trains)
- 42nd Street/Fifth Avenue-Bryant Park (7, <7>, B, D, F, <F>, and M trains)
- Grand Central–42nd Street (4, 5, 6, <6>, 7, <7>, and S trains)
There are two subway lines under 42nd Street. The 42nd Street Shuttle (S train) runs under 42nd Street between Broadway/Seventh Avenue (Times Square) and Park Avenue (Grand Central). The IRT Flushing Line (7 and <7> trains) 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, though the Fifth Avenue station is also served by the 7 and <7> trains.
In the past, every former IRT elevated line had a station at 42nd Street:
- 42nd Street on the IRT Second Avenue Line
- 42nd Street on the IRT Third Avenue Line
- 42nd Street on the IRT Sixth Avenue Line
- 42nd Street on the IRT Ninth Avenue Line
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 2019, bus lanes were installed along the length of the street.
In popular culture
This article contains a list of miscellaneous information. (September 2020)
- The George M. Cohan song "Give My Regards to Broadway" includes the lyrics "Tell all the gang at Forty-Second Street / That I will soon be there".
- The Jim Croce song "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" includes the lyrics "42nd street got Big Jim Walker, he a pool shootin' son of a gun..."
- The Billy Joel song "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)" includes the lyrics "We'd seen it all the time on 42nd Street..."
- The Scorpions song "The Zoo" talks about the busy nightlife in New York; it includes the lyrics "Enjoy the Zoo, walk down 42nd Street".
- The Bleachers song "Goodmorning" references "the kids at 42" who helped him out at one point in his life.
- The Don McLean song "Sister Fatima" on American Pie mentions 42nd Street as a way to set the scene of New York in the 1960s.
- The title track of rapper Kurtis Blow's second album Deuce also refers to the street and its nightlife.
- The novel Our Lady of the Inferno is largely set against the backdrop of 1980s 42nd Street; multiple reviews praised the book for its attention to detail in accurately recreating the environment as it existed.
- The Beastie Boys songs "She's Crafty" and "Hold It Now, Hit It" include the lyrics "I think I thought I seen her on eighth and forty-deuce" and "I'm a peep-show seeking on the forty-deuce", respectively.
- The Kansas song "Down the Road", from the 1975 album Song for America, includes the lyrics "The kind of freaks that hang out on 42nd Street".
- The 1994 Louis Malle film Vanya on 42nd Street is about a group of actors attempting to perform the play Uncle Vanya in the (then) dilapidated New Amsterdam Theatre
- The 42nd Street Subway Station is featured in Street Fighter III: Third Strike as the "Subway Station" stage. There are two versions of the stage, which are used for the characters Alex and Ken Masters, respectively. Alex's version is set at 1:31 AM and has a bright orange tint, as opposed to Ken's version, which is set at 9:27 PM and has a blue tint. The former also has construction equipment all over the place whereas the latter is clear.
- Google (August 31, 2015). "42nd Street (Manhattan)" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
- Burrows & Wallace 1999, p. 260.
- Burrows & Wallace 1999, p. 338.
- 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."
- Burrows & Wallace 1999, p. 579.
- Burrows & Wallace 1999, p. 944.
- "Local News in Brief". The New York Times. September 29, 1871. p. 8. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
"The Grand Central Railroad Depot, Harlem Railroad". The New York Times. October 1, 1871. p. 6. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
"Local News in Brief". The New York Times. November 1, 1871. p. 8. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- Burrows & Wallace 1999, pp. 1149–1150.
- Stern, Mellins & Fishman 1995, p. 452.
- "42d St. Elevated Stops; Service on Spur to Grand Central Discontinued Last Midnight". The New York Times. December 7, 1923. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on March 2, 2020. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
- "Socony-Mobil Building" (PDF). New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. February 25, 2003. p. 2. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
- "News Building; Tall East 42d Street Edifice Nearing Completion". The New York Times. October 13, 1929. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
- "Manhattan's Building Peak Shifts to Forty-Second St; Five Buildings Cost Over $61,000,000. A Pioneer Movement. Renting From the Plans". The New York Times. February 3, 1929. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 24, 2020.
- "42nd Street" on the Internet Broadway Database
- 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
- Blumenthal, Ralph, "A Times Square Revival?" The New York Times Magazine (December 27, 1981). Accessed September 6, 2010
- "U. N. Approach to Be Beautified By Redevelopment of 42d Street". The New York Times. December 22, 1949. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
- Stern, Mellins & Fishman 1995, pp. 456ndash, 457.
- Stern, Mellins & Fishman 1995, p. 457.
- Dalton, Dudley (January 24, 1965). "East 42d Street Home to Industry: Corporate Headquarters Are on Three-block Stretch". The New York Times. p. R1. ISSN 0362-4331. ProQuest 116682516. Retrieved December 14, 2020 – via ProQuest.
- Gilbert, Felix; Rosen, Lew (November 17, 1963). "Activity Is Brisk Near the River; New Office Buildings and Motels Brighten 42d Street's Tarnished Image". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
- Deutsch, Claudia H. (June 2, 1996). "Commercial Property/East 42d Street;Rebirth of West 42d Street Is Spreading Eastward". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
- 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.
- "Subway Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. September 2021. Retrieved September 17, 2021.
- "Manhattan Bus Map" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. July 2019. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
- "42 St Transit Improvements – presented to Manhattan Community Board 4 Transportation Committee" (PDF). nyc.gov. New York City Department of Transportation. June 19, 2019. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
- "42 St Transit Improvements – presented to Manhattan Community Board 5 Transportation Committee" (PDF). nyc.gov. New York City Department of Transportation. June 24, 2019. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
- "42 St Transit Improvements – presented to Manhattan Community Board 6 Transportation Committee" (PDF). nyc.gov. New York City Department of Transportation. September 4, 2019. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
- "Staten Island Bus Service" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Authority. January 2020. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
- "Forty Deuce". June 30, 1998.
- Burrows, Edwin G. and Wallace, Mike (1999). Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-195-11634-8.
- Stern, Robert A. M.; Mellins, Thomas; Fishman, David (1995). New York 1960: Architecture and Urbanism Between the Second World War and the Bicentennial. New York: Monacelli Press. ISBN 1-885254-02-4. OCLC 32159240.
- 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.)
- 42nd Street: A New York Songline – virtual walking tour
- Ashley West (June 29, 2014). "Marty Hodas: King of the Peeps" (audio interview). The Rialto Report.