The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square

The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square

James Traub / Jan 17, 2020

The Devil s Playground A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square As Times Square turns New York Times Magazine contributing writer James Traub tells the story of how this mercurial district became one of the most famous and exciting places in the world The Dev

  • Title: The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square
  • Author: James Traub
  • ISBN: 9780375759789
  • Page: 301
  • Format: Paperback
  • As Times Square turns 100, New York Times Magazine contributing writer James Traub tells the story of how this mercurial district became one of the most famous and exciting places in the world The Devil s Playground is classic and colorful American history, from the first years of the twentieth century through the Runyonesque heyday of nightclubs and theaters in the 1920sAs Times Square turns 100, New York Times Magazine contributing writer James Traub tells the story of how this mercurial district became one of the most famous and exciting places in the world The Devil s Playground is classic and colorful American history, from the first years of the twentieth century through the Runyonesque heyday of nightclubs and theaters in the 1920s and 30s, to the district s decline in the 1960s and its glittering corporate revival in the 1990s.First, Traub gives us the great impresarios, wits, tunesmiths, newspaper columnists, and nocturnal creatures who shaped Times Square over the century since the place first got its name Oscar Hammerstein, Florenz Ziegfeld, George S Kaufman, Damon Runyon, Walter Winchell, and the Queen of the Nightclubs, Texas Guinan bards like A J Liebling, Joe Mitchell, and the Beats, who celebrated the drug dealers and pimps of 42nd Street He describes Times Square s notorious collapse into pathology and the fierce debates over how best to restore it to life.Traub then goes on to scrutinize today s Times Square as no author has yet done He writes about the new 42nd Street, the giant Toys R Us store with its flashing Ferris wheel, the new world of corporate theater, and the sex shops trying to leave their history behind.More than sixty years ago, Liebling called Times Square the heart of the world not just the center of the world, though this crossroads in Midtown Manhattan was indeed that, but its heart From the dawn of the twentieth century through the 1950s, Times Square was the whirling dynamo of American popular culture and, increasingly, an urban sanctuary for the eccentric and the untamed The name itself became emblematic of the tremendous life force of cities everywhere.Today, Times Square is once again an awe inspiring place, but the dark and strange corners have been filled with blazing light The most famous street character on Broadway, the Naked Cowboy, has his own website, and Toys R Us calls its flagship store in Times Square the toy center of the universe For the giant entertainment corporations that have moved to this safe, clean, and self consciously gaudy spot, Times Square is still very much the center of the world But is it still the heart

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      Published :2019-03-06T12:59:34+00:00

    About "James Traub"

      • James Traub

        James Traub Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square book, this is one of the most wanted James Traub author readers around the world.


    495 Comments

    1. I read this as research for a historical fiction contest I hoped to enter, but I didn’t get very far before I realized that I wasn’t going to finish the book, much less my story, before the deadline. That put a real damper on my enthusiasm for the book, but I regained it in the second half. As has happened before with books that cover a broad swath of history, the closer the book got to my lifetime, the more I appreciated it.The book is about the history of Times Square and 42nd Street, whic [...]


    2. More like 2.5 stars. The idea is fascinating: trace the history of Times Square from its humble beginnings to the giant corporate billboard that is today. I appreciated some of the earlier chapters but got bogged down with his writing style. The book just got boring the longer it went on. I did learn some useful information but think it should have been about 100 pages shorter.


    3. What is it with folks who write for the New Yorker publishing books that claim to be stand-alone works but are, in actuality, simply a collection of the articles they've written for the New Yorker, expanded and stitched together with rough yarn?All of that said, I enjoyed the read immensely, regardless of the patchwork feel of the thing. Traub does a nice job of presenting the history of Times Square (if a little spotty on some of the details of certain, "uninteresting" eras)One feels nostalgic [...]


    4. Interesting, well-written history of New York's most famous public space. Published in the early 2000s, the book is a bit dated in spots (for instance much space is devoted to the opening of the Toys R Us Times Square flagship store, which closed in 2016) but certainly still worth reading.


    5. This was impossibly dull. The story was so interesting but the writer focused on dull pieces and got caught up in his own tics. It was so difficult to get through as he droned on and on. Endless pages on Toys R Us for crying out loud.


    6. Really interesting take both on city planning, philosophy of the built environment, and a history of Times Square. Somewhat out of date now, but still a fascinating read.


    7. Didn't keep my interest like I thought it would. Well researched, and if you are a fan of New York City this would be a great read. But for me I just couldn't stay interested.


    8. Okay, it’s out of date (2004) but it’s history, so it’s good until that point, and since most of the landmarks he talks about are still doing a thriving business, I’m not having a problem with it.Times Square, simply put, is the Icon of America itself, almost as much as the White House. For more than a hundred years, it has been the center of the world, the image people have when they think of New York, or Broadway, or important theater. This is where American standard songs were written [...]


    9. I really enjoyed this book, which traces the history of Times Square from its earliest beginnings to the era of redevelopment and "Disneyfication" in the 1990s. I was surprised to find myself liking the later, more contemporary chapters, just as much if not more as those on Times Square's early days. It seemed that perhaps Traub, a reporter at the NYT, was more engaged with the later chapters, for which he could do on-the-scenes research and interviews, than with the earlier ones, which were all [...]


    10. Ah, Times Square, that wonderful, crowded, loud, gaudy centre of iniquity. The stories this place could tell! As someone who has spent many hours there (including one drunken New Year's Eve, don't ask) I can say that unfortunattely, Mr. Traub is not the man to tell them. His style is very plodding and just doesn't do one of my favourite places in the world the justice it deserves. Oh well, at least he tried.


    11. This was a very good read.  A comprehensive and entertaining history of Times Square and through it a history of entertainment in America.  The chapters on the glory days and decline of this area are fascinating and entertaining.  I'll be in New York in a few weeks and I look forward to seeing Times Square with new eyes.  


    12. I went to school in Times Sq. during the twilight of its dirty days. I miss the grit and dirt and am blinded by the lights making TSQ the playground it was never meant to be. One thing that hasn't changed is how much the tourists annoy the fuck out of me


    13. Too long. The history of Times Square is very interesting; the author should have limited the book to telling the stories rather than offering his opinions. It would have been helpful to include a map of Times Square. Photos, too.





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