Many travelers insist on going to Times Square, just to check out the scene, I guess. Little of interest remains for citizens like me because nothing remains of the unbelievably intense hustle and bustle that was the reason for its fame, even as late as the 1980s. Think Midnight Cowboy.
What IS there looks absurd. I’ve seen a man dressed only in a cowboy hat, cowboy boots and underpants, daily playing a guitar only for the (then) passing cars and busses. I’ve seen a very heavy, very senior bare breasted woman exposing herself to the same crowd.
If you are one who insists, you can get closer to the former days by sitting down in a restaurant where the players who fueled that hustle and bustle honed their strip dancing skills or their skills at scams like Three Card Monte.
That restaurant is the huge pizzeria John’s, kitted out inside a former tabernacle with a domed stain glass ceiling about 50 feet above (and ‘sliced’ into 8 sections, just like a pizza), a surrounding second floor balcony for former revellers and a crowd of tourists all seeking a grand old time.
Looking around the big room into its dark shadows, I unavoidably imagine I can see Harry the Horse, Nicely-Nicely Johnson, Benny Southstreet, Nathan Detroit and all the other lovable, fast-talking schemers from the Damon Runyon short stories-inspired Guys and Dolls.
The pizza ain’t bad either, but you’ll have to buy a whole pie—no slices served.