In this chapter from his 1932 book, Times Square Tintypes, Broadway columnist Sidney Skolsky profiles not a person, but the Crossroads of the World, the area that gave Skolsky’s book its name—Times Square.
FORTY-SECOND Street and Seventh Avenue . . . Everybody calls it Broadway. The Rialto Theatre. A hanging says it is “The House of Hits”. . . . But the big line is at the Paramount . . . Sightseeing buses . . . Old women sitting in them . . . Making a living as decoys . . . See the Bowery . . . A lecture through Chinatown . . . Why, all the Chinks own restaurants on Broadway . . . There ain’t no Chinamen in Chinatown . . . The chap who is shouting that he is going to point out the historic places . . . Did you know he only arrived here from Portland last week? . . . See the old man selling The Birth Control Review . . . He’s doing it for the wife and kiddies. . . .
A million lights that dim the stars. . .”
The Astor Hotel . . . Must have been nice when it was a big farm . . . More people live outside than in . . . That drug store diagonally opposite . . . Gray’s . . . You know, that’s where you buy theatre tickets at half-price . . . Best seats for all the “hits” in town . . . Isn’t that a well-dressed man? . . . Tuxedo . . . High hat . . . He’s got class . . . Sure has poise . . . Must be some big society fellow . . . Wait a moment and his shirt will light up, advertising a brand of cigar . . .
Heart of the World . . .”
Loew’s New York Roof . . . It’s called the old men’s club . . . They go there to sleep . . . Did you know it once had an elegant French name and house the first Ziegfeld Follies? There’s a nut embarrassing couples by trying to make the girl take a rose and make the guy pay for it . . . Another Nedick thirst station . . . Hungry, have a hot dog, too . . . Just like Coney Island . . . A shabby, fate-beaten old man . . . Once was a great architect and built many theaters . . . He now haunts the lobbies of those theaters . . .
A helping hand—they’re all for sale,
On Broadway, Broadway. . . .
A Lucky Strike display situation . . . Try to edge your way near the window . . . The blonde is worth seeing . . . Better than most chorus girls . . . Don’t have to pay $5.50 either . . . The fight at Madison Square Garden round for round in the doorway of a sheet music shop . . . And if you’re interested in art, you can look at the picture postal cards also . . . Childs . . . See them tossing buckwheat cakes . . . This is their Broadway place . . . Only the best performers work here . . . No newcomers . . . The crowd is too large and critical . . . Newcomers always get stage fright . . . Another United Cigar store . . . Say, if they prohibited smoking where would we find telephone booths? . . . The Palace across the street . . . It used to be the dream of all vaudevillians to play there . . . Now if the movie houses don’t get them, they’re there . . .
When you’re on top;
Same crowd hissing you and dismissing you
If you should flop . . .
The photomatic . . . You can take you picture . . . Eight for a quarter . . . They’re all ready to take home in five minutes . . . Say, isn’t this a wonderful age? . . . Let’s get tomorrow’s paper today and see what has happened tomorrow . . . This sure is great . . .
Tomorrow is another day . . .
Here we are at Fifty-second Street . . . Just ten blocks . . . It’s dull from here up . . . Broadway’s a small place, isn’t it? . . . Just ten blocks . . . Ten blocks for all the world to get famous in . . .
The Heart of the World. . . .”