One Times Square: A Century of Change at the
Crossroads of the World
by Joe McKendry; illus. by the author
Intermediate Godine 64 pp.
9/12 978-1-56792-364-3 $19.95
You are there at the birth, the decay, and the revival of Times Square, the “crossroads of the world” for a century. McKendry (Beneath the Streets of Boston, rev. 9/05) is an illustrator and a documentarian, with the know-how to supply technical construction drawings, to paint stirring double-page bleeds of the neon-lighted nightlife, and to draw street scenes as they might have been drawn in times past. His focal point is the Times Tower, at One Times Square — built in 1904 as the home of The New York Times, soon the site of the celebrated New Year’s Eve ball-drop and the wraparound “Zipper” news bulletins, today largely an empty shell covered with more than twenty electronic and vinyl billboards, making it “the most valuable signpost in the world.” McKendry doesn’t inflect his text; there’s no drama to his account of Times Square’s ups and downs. (The porn, prostitution, and street-crime decades are treated matter-of-factly.) But visually the book is a spectacle worthy of its subject. A brief list of sources is appended.
From the November/December 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.