Here is another way to measure the City Brand reputation and identity…
When working in City Branding, one of the first things consulting firms and practitioners normally do (or should do) is measure the reputation and perception of the City Brand as well as find the City identity.
However, it is important to try and incorporate alternative data sets of information that may be applicable to a specific city only. If we were working for New York City’s Brand project, there would be one data set we would definitely use — pictures.
These gritty pictures show Times Square’s journey from porn mecca to family-friendly
42nd Street went from ’The Deuce’ to the dud in 20 years
Times Square was already lost by the time Debbie did Dallas. Decline, which began during the Great Depression, had slowly shifted the “crossroads of the world” from an epicentre of show business and publishing to a magnet for crime and prostitution. By the 1970s, the area was synonymous with sleaze and depravity — a pimp’s paradise where flesh and drugs were peddled openly as apathetic cops did their best not to get involved. New York was teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and 42nd Street was the festering wound in the heart of a dying city.
This being America though, even the smut sellers found ways to innovate.Amidst the unregulated wash of exploitation on 42nd were the rumblings of nascent porn industry, which by the mid-1970s had transformed from underground “blue movies” and thinly disguised science films to a widely popular genre of adult cinema. Though it manifests very differently today, the multibillion-dollar porn industry gained much of its traction on a single stretch of 42nd street known colloquially as “The Deuce.” The block between 7th and 8th avenues — which even as early as 1960 had been labelled by The New York Times as the “worst in town” — was lined with theatre marquees advertising screenings of films like Deep Throat, The Devil in Miss Jones, and The Nun’s Bad Habit.
To the rest of the country, Times Square represented the darkest edge of the American nightmare. A place populated with lost cowboys and lunatic cab drivers. A reason to stay in the suburbs. But that image never took into account the culture occurring alongside the seediness. Eventually, even the filth would come to be missed as New York sanitized itself into the 21st century.
Gentrification came creeping in the 1980s. The Marriott Marquee, which broke ground on top of five former theatres in 1982, provided shelter for thousands of tourists whose needs, over time, the area adapted to accommodate. Religious groups crusaded against pornography and pressured city officials to crack down on the area’s already dwindling sex trade. Today the forty deuces is family-friendly, lined with gift shops and wholesome musical productions. It’s a cleaner, more expensive New York, where nostalgia for the bad old days is all part of the selling point.
This article was originally published here