The mission of The New 42nd Street is clear: it must reinvent life for the seven wonderful theaters under its jurisdiction, and in so doing, recreate them as places of popular art and entertainment for the 21st century and beyond. The theaters must serve as a magnet, providing affordable entertainment for New York City residents and visitors of all ages, races and classes, and they should resound with life both day and night. In order to reanimate the theaters and the street they occupy, imagination and tenacity must be brought to bear.
– The New 42nd Street’s 1991 “Plan for The New Victory Theater”
By the early 1980s, Times Square had become a neglected stretch of urban decay. New York residents and visitors avoided the area and growing public concern compelled New York State and City to join forces to eradicate the blight. In 1990, guided by a plan to redevelop the area through the revitalization of 42nd Street’s historic theaters, the State and City of New York established the nonprofit organization now known as The New 42nd Street.
The Victory, Times Square, Selwyn, Lyric, Liberty, Empire and Apollo theaters were leased by the State and City of New York to The New 42nd Street for 99 years. With this lease came the obligation not only to restore these theaters, but to meet what the State and City of New York had determined to be the “public goals” for 42nd Street’s redevelopment:
- Maintain secure but lively daytime and evening activity in the Theaters as close to 365 days a year as possible
- Strengthen New York’s role as the country’s premier entertainment city
- Reinforce the area’s role as the “Crossroads of the World” by providing a diversity of entertainment serving a wide spectrum of New Yorkers and visitors of varied ages, races and economic and ethnic backgrounds
- Re-establish 42nd Street as a desirable destination for all New Yorkers and visitors with a distinct identity that has a spontaneous, positive vitality on the street with structured entertainment inside the Theaters
- Encourage the economic self-sufficiency of the complex
- Contribute to the performing arts in New York by offering support and performance space to the extent practicable
- Foster popular priced entertainment to the maximum extent possible
Today, 42nd Street is a vibrant mix of nonprofit and commercial uses. Throughout the year, at any time during the day or night, Times Square plays host to New Yorkers and visitors from around the world as New York’s premier destination for popular art and entertainment.