Times Square Roulette

Times Square Roulette

Remaking the City Icon

By Lynne B. Sagalyn

The compelling story of the politics, policies, and personalities that made Times Square's revitalization possible.





The compelling story of the politics, policies, and personalities that made Times Square's revitalization possible.

The spectacularly successful transformation of Times Square has become a model for other cities. From its beginning as Longacre Square, Times Square's commercialism, signage, cultural diversity, and social tolerance have been deeply embedded in New York City's psyche. Its symbolic role guaranteed that any plan for its renewal would push the hot buttons of public controversy: free speech, property-taking through eminent domain, development density, tax subsidy, and historic preservation.

In Times Square Roulette, Lynne Sagalyn debunks the myth of an overnight urban miracle performed by Disney and Mayor Giuliani, to tell the far more complex and commanding tale of a twenty-year process of public controversy, nonstop litigation, and interminable delay. She tells how the troubled execution of the original redevelopment plan provided a rare opportunity to rescript it. And timing was all: the mid-1990s saw rising international corporate interest in the city was a mecca for mass-market entertainment and synergistic merchandising. Sagalyn details the complex relationship between planning and politics and the role of market forces in shaping Times Square's redevelopment opportunities. She shows how policy was wedded to deal making and how persistent individuals and groups forged both.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262194624 638 pp. | 7.5 in x 11 in 202 illus., 20 color


$34.95 X ISBN: 9780262692953 638 pp. | 7.5 in x 11 in 202 illus., 20 color


  • If, as Lynne Sagalyn asserts, 'the deal is in the details,' then this book is the real deal.


  • ... Magisterially copious...

    New York Sun

  • ... masterly... full of eye-opening material.

    The New Yorker


  • Sagalyn has a terrific story to tell, and she tells it with a remarkable mix of local color and analytic sophistication. She has a deep understanding of politics, economics, corporate and public finance, city planning, and urban design; and she integrates them gracefully throughout.

    Alan Altshuler

    Director, Taubman Center for State and Local Government, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

  • In Times Square Roulette, Lynne B. Sagalyn has accomplished the extraordinary feat of presenting a balanced, sophisticated, and definitive account of one of the nation's most-watched urban turnarounds. She brilliantly blends intriguing historical narrative with careful financial and political analysis to capture the excitement, complexity, and dynamism of the large-scale public-private partnerships that are at the heart of today's remarkable city revival. This is a great story!

    Eugenie L. Birch

    Professor and Chair, Department of City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania

  • Lynne Sagalyn has analyzed the remaking of 42nd Street with extraordinary diligence and insight. A must read for New York City aficionados.

    Edward I. Koch

    former mayor of New York City

  • The self-styled 'crossroads of the world,' Times Square has always been different from the entertainment districts of other American cities—bigger, louder, more crowded, and even more depraved. The battle for its future, as well as its past, has been complex and confused, but has never been explained with more clarity and power than by Lynne Sagalyn.

    Kenneth T. Jackson

    President, The New York Historical Society, and Editor-in-Chief, The Encyclopedia of New York City

  • A compelling and timely account of development politics and policy in New York. With balance, insight, and terrific writing, Times Square Roulette explains the complicated process of city building and in newly revealing ways sheds light on the dynamics of public-private real estate ventures in New York. Real Estate professionals, students, city residents, and others who love cities have much to gain by reading Sagalyn's telling account of one of the city's great transformations.

    Jerry I. Speyer

    President and CEO, Tishman Speyer Properties


  • This book received Honorable Mention in the category of Architecture and Urban Studies in the 2001 Professional/Scholarly Publishing Annual Awards Competition presented by the Association of American Publishers, Inc.