A snapshot of 1970s Times Square

Bob Gruen took this photo of Times Square in April 1972. Everything in it is now gone.

The campy “Follies Burlesk,” which had taken over the circa-1917 Orpheum Dance Palace a few years earlier, didn’t last long. It was replaced in 1976 by the Gaiety Male Burlesk, advertising “six boys five times a day.” 

The Gaiety had staying power, shutting down in 2005, just as the Howard Johnson’s right below it did when the entire building was sold.

HoJo’s was an orange and blue mainstay offering cheapo drinks. food, and old signage since 1955. 

Peace marchers, here protesting bombings in Vietnam, are also few and far in between. Times Square isn’t much of a place of protest anymore—especially now that it’s a blocks-long pedestrian mall.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

21 Responses to “A snapshot of 1970s Times Square”

  1. Michael Says:

    You know I miss a lot of things about New York from when I was a kid. I grew up in Downtown Brooklyn before anything called “Bococa” existed. I got to walk around Radio Row before it was torn down when I was in primary school. One of my favorite pictures of myself from when I was a kid is in front of the old Penn Station with my dad.

    One thing I don’t miss about New York’s past though? Times Square. I can’t remember a time when it wasnt both packed with tourists and prostitutes. Maybe some people remember the cheap drinks at hojos but all that comes to my mind is the pimps, sad looking street walkers and peep shows. I think its hilarious when I talk with fellow old timers and they reminisce about Times Square before the “disneyfication.” What exactly were you doing over there that you miss so much man? That question never gets a good answer.

    Now that the internet exists we don’t need Times Square. It comes right to your living room.

  2. Josie Says:

    I remember Times Square from the 1940s (when I was a child) through the 1980s (left NYC in 1990). In its very last years before yuppification and disneyfication, Times Square became nothing but nasty, a district of porn shops, drug dealing, prostitution, and thieves brazenly hawking their stolen wares for sale on the sidewalks. The midnight scene became so menacing that cab drivers avoided the area and the the great department stores only a few blocks away started closing at 5:00 and 6:00 in the evening whereas they used to be open until late at night and all the supporting businesses (restaurants, etc.) around them too. It’s disheartening that just yesterday, on Easter Sunday 2010, there was gang-instigated mayhem all over the Times Square area … But for decades before it got that bad, it was a glorious good time of legend! Besides the famous news ticker (news in lights, wrapping around the Times building) and New Year’s Eve, hordes of “regular” people enjoyed the glamour of Times Square, day and night. There was the legitimate theatre. There were fancy nightclubs, restaurants, and dance halls. People were drawn to enjoy the hundreds of stores selling imports, tourist trinkets, wonderful toys and gadgets (mostly mechanical and then moving into the electronics), all cheap! And going to the movies along 42nd Street (a dozen or so double-feature theatres), and a great variety of eateries, high and low. Tucked in all around were acting and dancing schools, printers–you name it! In the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s … If you did an all-nighter which we occasionally did as young people, sure, you could pick out prostitutes, drunks, and weirdos in the crowd. But still the crowd was mostly a mix of tourists from other states and nations, and people in from the suburbs to carouse on a weekend, and we adventurous, non-yuppie, solid citizen young Manhattanites who not only enjoyed a little excitement but also preferred diversity to a Dick and Jane world of bland and smug conformity.

  3. Josie Says:

    I ate in that Howard Johnson’s lots of times.

  4. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    You should see my novella ‘Times Queer’ about 42nd Street and teen kids hanging in the streets

    http://timesqueer.blogspot.com/

    http://www.amazon.com/Times-Queer-Mykola-Dementiuk/dp/0975858114/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270493229&sr=8-4

    It will set you right, whether you want to or not

  5. Alex Says:

    Times Square definitely needed cleaning up, but the Disneyfication of the area has swung the pendulum to the other extreme. I had eaten at that HoJo’s a few times over the years because of it’s convenient proximity to the theaters, the food was passable at best.

    • addie Says:

      Alex, Yes, Disneyfication, sure is the other, sleaze, extreme! Which kind of is worse? I think I prefer the porn. honestly, I don’t know.
      The porn did not stop real theatre from going on, but Disney has, or did Porn do that as well?

      Were we better off with the Porn, do you think?

  6. petey Says:

    “I got to walk around Radio Row before it was torn down”
    i’m very jealous! i’m a radiohead but a tad too young for that.

  7. Then And Now: Ed Koch’s Rebuilding Of New York City Then And Now: Ed Koch’s Rebuilding Of New York City http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/then-and-now-ed-kochs-rebuilding-of-new-york-cit Remarkable before-and-after photos of seedy Times Square and Says:

    […] Howard Johnson's, a burlesque, and Vietnam peace protesters. Right: Howard Johnson's and a sign for the musical Chicago in 2008. […]

  8. Then And Now: Ed Koch’s Rebuilding Of New York City « シ最愛遲到.! Says:

    […] Howard Johnson's, a burlesque, and Vietnam peace protesters. Right: Howard Johnson's and a sign for the musical Chicago in 2008. […]

  9. 'Mad Men' notes: Remembering the Times Square HoJo - Bowery Boys: New York City History Says:

    […] Howard Johnson at 46th Street: Dinner and a movie, all in one corner! There’s even Vietnam war protesters outside. (Photo by Bob Gruen, taken 1972, courtesy Ephemeral New York) […]

  10. Christopher Duquette Says:

    I was a dancer at the Gaiety 1976 – 1978.
    Read about my daze of hoofing around NYC until I crashed and burned from D&A in 2004: Gallery, Flamingo, Anvil, Crisco Disco, Paradise Garage, Ice Palace 57, Studio 54, Hurrah, the World, Sound Factory,….
    Homo GoGo Man, by Christopher Duquette
    available now on DonnaInk.com & Amazon.com

    don’t you want to know what went on behind the mylar curtain?

  11. Christopher Duquette Says:

    I danced at the Gaiety 1976 -1978.

    I wrote a book about my daze of hoofing in NYC 1976 – 2004,
    from Gaiety Burlesk, the Gallery Paradise Garage, Flamingo,
    12 West, Anvil, Crisco Disco, Studio 54,the World, the Saint, Sound Factory….. until I crashed and burned on D&A.

    available now on DonnaInk.com & Amazon.com
    Homo GoGo Man
    by Christopher Duquette

    if you want to relive the Gaiety experience from behind the silver mylar curtain, read my book.

  12. Kevin Says:

    hey you…it’s “Joe”… What happen to Denice & her sister. Did they go back to Greece? Happy to see you pulled it together,where so many others,well…… Get in touch,if u want. Joe

    • Christopher Duquette Says:

      I was able to track Denise and Evi both living in Queens. They are both credited with the longevity of the Gaiety (unlike Denise’s despicable ex-husband who owned and ran the RamRod, where I was discovered by Nicky DiRoma who ushered me onto the virgin stripper stage at the Gaiety. I wish I could place who you are “Joe”. I mention the strippers who danced with me: Marlena, Tapping Tina, black Christopher, Phillip, Jimmy Cricket, Don Swanson,…. I hope you read the book.

  13. Then And Now: Ed Koch’s Rebuilding Of New York City | Enfopedia Says:

    […] Howard Johnson’s, a burlesque, and Vietnam peace protesters. Right: Howard Johnson’s and a sign for the musical Chicago in 2008. […]

  14. A snapshot of 1970s Times Square | astound me: D.A. Królak Says:

    […] via A snapshot of 1970s Times Square | Ephemeral New York […]

  15. Christopher Duquette Says:

    My first man-on-man encounter was with a hustler/stripper named Nicky DiRoma. He picked me up (a naïve and sexually confused 18 yr. old from upstate) in Times Square, where my homosexual virginity was given up in a seedy local “by-the-hour” hotel. I returned to my college (StonyBrook) and returned to meet Nicky in Penn Station, wherein he lead me to the Gaiety to watch him strip, then, told me to do the same. I danced to medley of current hits by Ritchie Family: “The Best Disco in Town.” I danced at the Gaiety only on weekends (Male Marathons) from 1976 – 1978.

    I wrote a book about my daze of hoofing in NYC 1976 – 2004,
    from Gaiety, the Gallery Paradise Garage, the Anvil, Crisco Disco, IcePalace57, Flamingo, 12 West, Studio 54,the World, the Saint, Sound Factory….. until I crashed and burned on D&A.

    Homo GoGo Man: a fairytale about a boy who grew up in discoland, by Christopher Duquette on Amazon, BarnesandNoble, and DonnaInk (publisher, were I was 2016 top seller)

  16. Then And Now: Ed Koch’s Rebuilding Of New York City « This is a Viral side grid site Says:

    […] Howard Johnson’s, a burlesque, and Vietnam peace protesters. [source] Right: Howard Johnson’s and a sign for the musical Chicago in 2008. […]

  17. Spirit Says:

    I tried to buy the neon SImple Simon/Pieman from the side of the Howard Johnson shown in the first photo but the “people in charge” trashed it instead. On the day after they destroyed the interior I walked through what was left…and found one of the fake butterflies they had in the window. I have it in my hand now. That was a great HoJo.

  18. Then And Now: Ed Koch’s Rebuilding Of New York City | Accident Lawyer Team Blog Says:

    […] Howard Johnson’s, a burlesque, and Vietnam peace protesters. [source] Right: Howard Johnson’s and a sign for the musical Chicago in 2008. […]

  19. Christopher Duquette Says:

    In August, 1976, I was a sexually suppressed 18 year old young man raised in IBM suburbia whose only claim to fame was winning Prom King for my choreographed dance moves I acquired by studying ‘American Bandstand’ and ‘Soul Train’. I always wanted to be a go-go dancer, on display for the world to admire. On the day I escaped my parents’ scrutiny and claustrophobic home by entering Stony Brook University, I chose to troll X-rated Times Square to satisfy my homosexual lust instead of settling into dorm life. I was quickly approached by a humpy Italian not much older than me, who gently introduced me to my first man-on-man sexual encounter with the experienced hands of a professional male hustler. My one hour romantic affair changed gears as my new lover challenged me to follow his lead as a stripper on the stages of the Gaiety Male Burlesque, where I would satisfy the audience and Denise, the conservative Greek business owner, to become a regular dancer on weekends from Stony Brook. I wrote about my experiences being mentored by street savvy coworkers at the Gaiety who guided me into the new lifestyle I apparently welcomed and succeeded at for two years, making more money than an 18 year old still in college knew what to do with, where and how to dress for success, where and how to take drugs, and became entitled to VIP treatment at the best high-end discos and entrance to the most exclusive underground clubs, dancing to the best DJ’s and music, making me feel like my Prom King Trophy come to life.
    Homo GoGo Man: a fairytale about a boy who grew up in discoland, by Christopher Duquette was published by DonnaInk DP in Dec.2014, sold well on Amazon and BarnesandNoble, consulted on disco articles, exhibitions and projects. I will be reading the chapter “the Gaiety Burlesque” with DJ accompaniment of the music relevant and threaded through that chapter and the rest of my overextended disco experience (1976 – 2004) as well as silver mylar curtains, disco ball and lights reminiscent of the Gaiety (or any iconic club you want to read about in my book), at the BGSQD bookstore on level 2 of LGBTQ ctr on 13th Street, NYC, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, 7pm- 9pm. View BGSQD.com for details, or, review my YouTube ‘Homo GoGo Man’ by Christopher Duquette
    845 337 7048, xristo_pherre@hotmail.com

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: