Spectator Can 42nd Street Be Born Again?

Wisely, New York would preserve the honky-tonk diversity of 42nd Street

Government-sponsored urban-renewal schemes are bad almost by definition, since they derive from the bureaucrat's impulse to tidy up, to eradicate funk and chaos in favor of large-scale orderliness; planners fail to see the trees for the forest. During the past couple of decades, the relentlessly-raze-and- rebuild notion of progress has been overtaken by a mania for historic preservation, which is a great improvement. But preservationism can also tend toward the prissy, the anal and the monomaniacal and become a kind of by-the- book undertaker's approach that makes dead and dying downtowns prettier but not quite alive.

At last, a post-control-freak third...