Times Square West from Bryant Park, 42nd Street meets Broadway at Times Square, the center of the theater district, where the pulsating neon suggests a heart for the city itself. Since the major cleanup launched by the city and by business interests like Disney, the ambience here has changed dramatically. Traditionally a melting pot of debauch, depravity and fun, the area became increasingly edgy, a place where out-of-towners supplied easy pickings for petty criminals, drug dealers and prostitutes (always, seemingly, a companion to theater districts). Most of the peep shows and sex shops have gone, and Times Square is now a largely sanitized universe of consumption. The neon signs seem to multiply at the same rate as coffee-bars, and Disney rules the roost on the stretch of 42nd between Seventh and Eighth, home to the remaining palatial Broadway "houses" and movie palaces. Like Greeley and Herald squares, Times Square took its name from a newspaper connection when the New York Times built offices here in 1904. While the Herald and Tribune fought each other in ever more vicious circulation battles, the NYT took the sober middle ground under the banner "All the news that's fit to print," a policy that enabled the paper to survive and become one of the country's most respected voices. Times Tower at the southernmost edge of the square was its headquarters, originally an elegant building modeled on Giotto's Campanile in Florence. In 1928, the famous zipper sign displaying the news of the world was added; the building was "skinned" in 1965 to be covered with the lifeless marble slabs visible today. It's also here where the alcohol-sozzled masses gather for New Year's Eve, to witness the giant apple dropping at the top of the Tower. The paper itself has long since crept off around a corner to 43rd Street, and today most of the printing goes on in New Jersey.Dotted around here are some of the great theaters, though many have been destroyed (like the Vaudeville palaces that preceded them) to make way for office buildings. The New Amsterdam and the Victory, both on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, have been refurbished by Disney to their original splendor, one of the truly welcome results of the massive changes here. There are others, too, that add flavor to the scene: the clock-and-globe-topped Paramount Theater Building at 1501 Broadway, between 43rd and 44th streets, is a favorite, and the Lyceum, Shubert and Lyric each have their original facades. Among the oldest is the Belasco on 44th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, which was also the first of Broadway's theaters to incorporate machinery into its stagings. The neon, so much a signature of the square, originally accompanied the building of the theaters and spawned the term "the Great White Way"; in 1922, its lights moved G.K. Chesterton to remark, "What a glorious garden of wonder this would be, to anyone who was lucky enough to be unable to read." Today, businesses that rent offices here are actually required to allow signage on their walls – the city's attempt to retain the square's traditional feel. The displays, of course, have modernized – note the steaming Cup of Noodles at the southern end – and even the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 42nd and Eighth, a former sink of depravity, is to be covered with a skin of metal for ad displays.Duffy Square is the northernmost island in the heart of Times Square and offers an excellent panoramic view of the square's lights, mega-hotels, theme-stores and theme-restaurants metastasizing daily. The nifty orange-canvas-and-frame stand of the TKTS booth, modest in comparison, sells half-price, same-day tickets for Broadway shows (whose exorbitant prices these days make a visit to TKTS a near necessity). A lifelike statue of Broadway's doyen George M. Cohan looks on – though if you've ever seen the film Yankee Doodle Dandy it's impossible to think of him other than as a swaggering Jimmy Cagney. Last word on the scene to Henry Miller from Tropic of Capricorn:It's only a stretch of a few blocks from Times Square to Fiftieth Street, and when one says Broadway that's all that's really meant and it's really nothing, just a chicken run and a lousy one at that, but even at seven in the evening when everyone's rushing for a table there's a sort of electric crackle in the air and your hair stands on end like an antenna and if you're receptive you not only get every bash and flicker but you get the statistical itch, the quid pro quo of the interactive, interstitial, ectoplasmic quantum of bodies jostling in space like the stars which compose the Milky Way, only this is the Gay White Way, the top of the world with no roof and not even a crack or a hole under your feet to fall through and say it's a lie. The absolute impersonality of it brings you to a pitch of warm human delirium which makes you run forward like a blind nag and wag your delirious ears.