New York's 42nd Street was once known for its peep shows, street-corner hustlers and cinemas. Since the 1980s it has been overcome by the notion of safety - from safe sex and safe neighbourhoods to safe cities and safe relationships - and given rise to a Disney store, a children's theatre and large neon-lit cafes. It has, in effect, become a family tourist attraction for visitors from Berlin, Tokyo, Westchester and New Jersey's suburbs. Samuel R. Delany sees a disappearance not only of the old Times Square, but of the complex social relationships that developed there: the points of contact between people of different classes and races in a public place. In this book he argues that public rest rooms, peep shows and tree-filled parks are necessary to a city's physical and psychological landscape. He contends that, starting in 1985, New York City criminalized peep shows and sex cinemas to clear the way for the rebuilding of Times Square, and paints a portrait of a society dismantling the institutions that promote communication between classes, and disguising its fears of cross-class contact as "family values".
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April 1999 : USA Hardback
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