Clinton remembers old Times Square: crime, hookers
April 13th, 2011
02:16 PM ET
7 years ago

Clinton remembers old Times Square: crime, hookers

(CNN) – It's not every day you hear an ex-president discuss his memories of a hooker.

But that's what Bill Clinton did Wednesday at a press conference in New York during which he praised the redevelopment that city's famed Times Square has undergone in the last two decades.

Appearing alongside New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to announce that the two leaders are joining forces to combat climate change, the former president beat back suggestions Times Square has lost the unique character it once had and reflected on his own memories of the famous junction at Broadway and Seventh Avenue when he first made a visit there more than 45 years ago.

"When I was 18 years-old in November of 1964, a freshman at Georgetown, I first went to Times Square. I bought a steak at Tad's Steakhouse. I heard a guy ream his mother out, poor working woman, because she'd given him a hi-fi instead of a stereo speaker. I remember everything about it. I saw a hooker approach a man in a gray flannel suit. Pretty heavy stuff for a guy from Arkansas," Clinton said.

A hot bed of crime and nefarious activities during most of the 20th century, Times Square first began its renovation under former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the mid 1990's, resulting in what has now become a major tourist attraction that some have, not kindly, likened to Disney World.

Indeed, some argue all the chain restaurants, retail stores, and television studious that now typify the Times Square has washed away its former one-of-a-kind personality.

Not so, says Clinton.

"My view is, its way better now," he continued. "You have to look at the overall numbers. Yes, I still have vivid memories of it – romantic, fascinating."

"It was dangerous from the point of view of crime and it was unhealthy from the point of view of public health," he added.

Filed under: Bill Clinton
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. ConservaFascists/FUBAR

    Yes. That's the Manhattan I was born and raised in. 42nd Street was hooker central. That cross dressing Giulianni came and had to clean the place up.

    April 13, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  2. Rickster

    "It's not every day you hear an ex-president discuss his memories of a hooker."
    I don't know, I'm betting pretty much every conversation with Bill Clinton eventually turns to his memories of a hooker.

    April 13, 2011 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  3. The Situation

    Are u sure he wasn't talking about the other day instead of 1964! No worries, I still like Bill Clinton!

    April 13, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  4. Ric

    I miss him and the general well being of our country under his leadership.

    April 13, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  5. diridi

    so happy to see pres. clinton....please advise obama.....

    April 13, 2011 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Mike Lowry

    ah hookers... the good ol' days.

    April 13, 2011 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Madtown

    Slick Willy and hookers....that sounds about right!

    April 13, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. sick of republican phonies

    I bet the 18 year-old Bill wouldn't necessarily have agreed it was better now!

    April 13, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  9. sick of republican phonies

    Or the 30 year old one...

    April 13, 2011 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Bruce

    I should start by saying that I liked Clinton's presidency. That said, however, someone should tell this idiot, given his personal history, to lay off reminiscences involving hookers, sex-workers of any kind, and assignations of any sort, whether they involved him or not.

    April 13, 2011 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Tony EEEE

    Ahhh, good times. I remember the live peep shows when I was in high school. "Wait a minute – you mean there is a LIVE girl behind the panel...for 25cents??? A roll of quarters please...."

    In all seriousness, there has to be a balance and the pendulum has swung too far. It is now too sterile.

    April 13, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  12. carrotroot

    Bubba laments about the loss of hookers in NYC!

    April 13, 2011 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  13. Bob

    Clinton forgot to mentioned how much money the Hookers charged back then for services r

    April 13, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  14. streetsmart

    NYC was alot edgier back in the day and that gave it a dark ambiance and bohemian flavor but along with that there was alot of high crime, it was dangerous at night. So I guess to clean the crime up it was bound to lose its primitive cool. NYC was one of the first cities in America and the 1st to flourish into what it became: an international metropolis of commerce and modern art. Its a city that was never planned that way it just sort of happened. Im quite sure if any of its mayors could forsee the high crime it would breed as it became more and more fast paced they would have done something but alas they could not. ILived there and yea it was dangerous, edgy but thats where the action is. its understandable it had to change because it did get out of control, but if you grew up there you still miss it. Shame

    April 13, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  15. Quirkydude

    Making a bit more of this statement than it is, aren't we?

    April 13, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. obama victim

    well..if anyone knows about hookers, it would be Slick Willie

    April 13, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. Constitution believer

    CNN's web editors have gone waaaay over the deep end recently, trying to create titillating headlines instead of report news. Clinton's comment about the fact there was a hooker in Times Square when he was a teen is yawn-worthy. If there is any news here at all it's about Bloomberg and Clinton joining work on the global warming problem (although somehow CNN failed to discuss AT ALL what that's all about). Or if you want a story focused on Times Square perhaps the news is that Clinton points out gov't redevelopment investment, over the years, helped eliminate what had been a seemingly intractable problem that Clinton rightly noted was "dangerous from the point of view of crime and it was unhealthy from the point of view of public health."

    April 13, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  18. Dawg85

    What's the big deal? He saw a hooker approach someone in New York City- good grief.

    April 13, 2011 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. Amazing

    As a native NYer, Clinton's description is spot on. There were hookers, drug dealers, junkies and other unsavory characters. I have no idea why CNN condisers this to a political news story. It seems like the story has more to do with his use of the word hookers given Clinton's past.

    April 13, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  20. jblow

    He remembers wearing a gray flannel suit? Wow!

    April 13, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. Yolanda

    So he remembers that he was wearing a gray flannel suit.......probably just before he didn't inhale.

    April 13, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. Bob

    Was Bill Clinton the man in the gray flannel suit?

    April 13, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. California Conservative

    I'll bet ya he remembers the hookers and that's about it.

    April 13, 2011 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  24. informed voter

    You gotta love Bill Clinton. He's smart, poetic and will be remembered as one of our best presidents. I am so happy that he and Hillary decided to make my home, New York, their home after leaving the White House. They are a testament to how to work through problems in a marriage and in a government. It's about compromise and forgiveness.

    April 13, 2011 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. Jon

    Based upon what the public knows of his prior behavior with women and his scheming and lying I have an idea that Bill Clinton's ideas of "romantic and fascinating" may very well be some of the most bizarre sheet that ever congealed in a human brain. But, inquiring minds want to know.... Tell us what you really mean, uh...Mr. President.

    April 13, 2011 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
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