Design: Renewal, But a Loss Of Funk

Will a building boom make Times Square square?

Americans' emblematic visions of their country incline toward the arcadian -- cabins in a peaceable countryside, a small town with no entertainment wilder than a Sousa band in the park. But in this century, as the U.S. became an urban nation, New York City's Times Square emerged as a different sort of American apotheosis. Times Square exemplified a certain idea of the city carried to its frenetic extreme: a few blocks dense with too many lights and too much action, a happy chaos of honky-tonk night life (the Florodora girls, Legs Diamond's Hotsy Totsy Club), theatrical bliss (Barrymore's Hamlet, the Marx...