Clinton remembers old Times Square: crime, hookers
April 13th, 2011
02:16 PM ET
12 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. Tanker

    That's awesome!!! What a cool exPresident!

    April 13, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  2. Consider This...

    He didn't recounts his memories of a hooker, he SAW a hooker, a bit different.

    April 13, 2011 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |

    Giuliani receives the credit, but it's not entirely accurate. The plan to revive and rezone Times Square was hatched in the late 70"s and early 80"s, with the help of the New York Times creating a redevelopment plan. Giuliani had the hard charging peronality to put the program in place and cut through all the nonsense from the city council and other people who had fought the redevelopment plan. Being a native New Yorker, I would say it was worth it but it has become a pretty dull and touristy place. I just don't really go there anymore, like going to a mall. Some people cut too much off of the Bohemian edge that New York enjoyed, there should have been a little consideration for that

    April 13, 2011 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  4. Ron

    "Turns heads," "raises eyebrows," over and over and over and over and over....CNN has used these phrases ad nauseam for months now. Can't you come up with something different for a while? By the way, what did Clinton say that would have turned anyone's head?

    April 13, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  5. bluedogboy

    Bill Clinton is the best. I wish he was still President.

    April 13, 2011 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. Olaf Big

    So, what exactly turns heads in this story? Is it that Bill used the word "hooker"? He is not a Sunday school student, and thank god, he is not.

    April 13, 2011 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "The President should ask for a Fair & Equitable FLAT TAX so everyone pays thier fair share of taxes to begin with"

    You won't find a single objective mathematical analysis or economic modeling of the impact of a flat tax that EVER, EVER IN A MILLION YEARS, USES THE WORD "EQUITABLE" TO DESCRIBE IT. Every single proposal that has EVER been made for a flat tax ALWAYS gets proven to place an INEQUITABLE burden on the middle-class and poor and to accelerate the REDISTRIBUTION of the country's wealth and assets to the already extremely wealthy. EVERY SINGLE TIME. You're foolish and undereducated on the subject if you believe the superficial BS being shoveled by people like Huckleberry and the Randroid. Just because it looks and sounds fair to set everyone's rate at the same percentage, doesn't even come close to meaning that it actually is. Even with a progressive tax rate structure we've seen a significant percentage of the country's wealth and assets REDISTRIBUTE TO THOSE WHO WERE ALREADY EXTREMELY WEALTHY for the past several decades. What that means is that the finite wealth and assets left to be shared and used by the middle-class and poor to pay for groceries, homes, cars, their childrens' educations, etc., is spread even thinner amongst even more people in a growing population. Meanwhile, the vast majority of our country's wealth and assets are LOCKED AWAY...accumulated, consolidated, and horded by extremely wealthy individuals and corporations...who then NEVER LET IT GO. The whole theory of an economy is the circulation of wealth and assets based on a currency system. Well, newsflash: there are two different economies in this country...the one the middle-class and poor live in...and the very small but ultra-wealthy one the extremely rich and large corporations live in. That needs to end if anything is EVER going to get fixed.

    April 13, 2011 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  8. Reality Check

    I grew up in New York City and know exactly what he's talking about. Time's Square has been reduced to a sanitized version of corporate America. No personality, no character, less edgy but certainly safer. The transformation also reflects the change in New York from a more chaotic city to one that is more regulated. Unfortunately, the reduction in crime comes at a cost of character and public freedom. Eventually, after the next few terrorist attacks we will be living in a police state. Safety comes at the price of personal freedom. New York City has always been on the forefront of trends in America so its easier to see the changes. The corporate junk being peddled at Toys R Us, M & M store etc.. is more indicative of the fact that everything today is c**p made in the far east. No personality and no craftsmanship. I for one do not wish to die in a world dominated by the Mcgarbage add campaigns of corporate america.

    April 13, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. NoFriendofBill

    Were you by any chance wearing a gray flannel suit, Bill?

    April 13, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  10. carlos

    nothing but honesty and transparency as opposed to the chronic prevaricator repugnants

    April 13, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. Russ

    Once again the "HOOK" on this article, "Bill Clinton Story Turns Heads" is a stupid misleading headline. Turns who's head? I didn't see anything in the article remotely close to turning heads. Who is responsible for these infintile headlines?

    April 13, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. ingrid about an overblown story. He notes a long list of things he saw and the header is about hookers. Come on! He also saw a boy arguing with his mom. That could have been the header: Bill remembers a fight in times square.

    April 13, 2011 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. CutTax

    all dems like all time hookers, no surprise

    April 13, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
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