Remember when Times Square was the raunch capital of New York, the kinda? place where The Devil in Miss Jones passed for great film and pasties for high fashion? This is how square the neighborhood has gotten: The last peep show shop to close nearly a decade ago has reopened a few blocks away with booths featuring… New York Times articles. Sorry, creepy guy in a trenchcoat!
From flesh factory to information incubator, the Peep-o-Rama is part of a larger refurbishment of a visitors center tucked into an old landmark theater on Broadway. The center’s operator, the Times Square Alliance, wanted to complement the existing space, which was your run-of-the-mill tourists? money grab, with kiosks for buying Broadway tickets and bus tours, by tacking on a mini-museum about Times Square. And you can’t tell the history of Times Square without throwing some sleaze on the pedestal.
Here’s our question: How exactly do you make Times Square’s porny past palatable for slack-jawed tourists? The short answer: Water it down and distract them with lots of other stuff. The center has all sorts of Times Square ephemera, from Broadway costumes to the centennial New Year’s Eve ball. We caught up with the center’s architects WXY Studio, who’ve become something of the go-to firm for innovative visitor centers; last year, they produced a minimalist, tech-driven tourists? bureau for the city of New York that looks more like an Apple store than a crappy brochure stand. Above, WXY’s Claire Weisz takes us through the center’s cool new design.
[Photos by Paul Warchol courtesy of WXY Studio]