Afterwards, I walked across town to get to my train. The weather was balmy, and I strolled along 42nd Street past the main library, past the Zamboni clearing the ice in Bryant Park, past someone dressed as Grover of Sesame Street who asked, in a clipped Pakistani accent, "Want to take a picture with me?"
The streets were Monday-night-off barren, but busy by any other city's standard. I walked by Madame Tussaud's, and wondered if she would recognize any of the (wax) people in her window; in America, in Times Square, history extends back a mere decade or two. Ripley's Believe It or Not was next, with its mechanical bearded lady. A street artist sketched a young couple, making a nice-looking picture that would cause each of them to wonder, Do I really look like that? (No you do not.) Then came the suburban multiplex movie theaters and chain restaurants that fit in only by dint of the accretion of neon.
I thought back to my childhood, when coming to a Broadway show meant parking in the very-iffy Hell's Kitchen and navigating one's way pseudo-graciously around streetwalkers. Back then the flashing lights illuminated dark corners, and after the show one was shocked to see little kids playing on stoops at 11pm as their families hung out and drank beer. One wondered about the people living there, then. Now the neon is a zoning requirement and there are upscale apartments and fancy food stores in the surrounding areas. You no longer feel you are walking through the set of West Side Story. Though I suppose you could still get mugged, if you weren't paying attention.