John Lindsay Receives Plaque for Broadway Theatre Contributions
Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin today unveiled a new plaque at the TKTS booth in Duffy Square, honoring the site's history and recent restorations, while also lauding the efforts of Mayor John V. Lindsay. Mayor Lindsay was a passionate supporter of the Broadway Theatre and was instrumental in the creation of the original TKTS booth with the Theatre Development Fund in 1973, making Duffy Square ever since a destination point for those in search of reduced-price theater tickets. Also in attendance at today's unveiling were State Assembly Member Richard Gottfried; Broadway producer Hal Prince, who is Chair of the Theatre Industry Committee to Honor John Lindsay; as well as leaders of the Times Square Alliance, Theatre Development Fund, Broadway League, Broadway Association, and members of Mayor Lindsay's family.
"Mayor Lindsay was a long-time supporter of Broadway and a friend to generations of New York City theater-goers," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "He spearheaded programs to preserve old theaters and build new ones, and he was instrumental in the creation of the world-renowned TKTS booth. Broadway is one of the reasons Duffy Square and the entire Times Square area are teeming like never before with New Yorkers and visitors from around world, and its success today is due in no small measure to the bold efforts of Mayor Lindsay."
"The TKTS booth in Duffy Square provides cut-rate access to first-rate theatre offerings in a world-famous setting," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Few advocated the theatre with as much passion as Mayor John Lindsay and we are thrilled to honor his efforts and contributions here in the heart of Broadway."
The Theatre Industry Committee to Honor John V. Lindsay is chaired by Hal Prince, and consists of Joel Grey, Mary Rodgers Guettel, Sheldon Harnick, Florence Henderson, Ken Howard, Michele Lee, Patti LuPone, Rita Moreno, Greg Mosher, Stephen Sondheim, and Miriam Colon Valle. The late Jerry Bock was also a member.
The text of the plaque now reads:
In 1973, Mayor John V. Lindsay, a passionate supporter of the Broadway Theatre, was instrumental in the creation of the original TKTS booth with the Theatre Development Fund, making Duffy Square ever since a destination point for those in search of reduced-price theater tickets.
Hal Prince, Chair of the Theatre Committee to Honor John V. Lindsay, said "Becoming mayor at a time when the Broadway theatre was greatly troubled, John Lindsay acted boldly-using zoning to create new theatres, enforcement to start the clean-up of Times Square, and ingenuity to launch the TKTS Booth. He was a constant presence at opening nights and the TONYs, for he loved theatre people, respected our craft and relished our performances. No mayor in the City's modern history has been as passionate about the theatre and did as much to ensure its vitality as my dear friend John Lindsay. We remember him fondly and salute his exemplary record."
Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, said "We are pleased to participate in this fitting tribute to the role of John Lindsay, tdf, and Broadway in revitalizing Times Square - an effort that has been so successful that most people have forgotten just how hopeless it was such a short time ago, and how important tkts was as a catalyst for change."
Victoria Bailey, Executive Director of the Theatre Development Fund, said "Theatregoers from every corner of the world will be forever grateful to Mayor John V. Lindsay and his Office of Midtown Planning, whose perseverance was instrumental in founding a same-day discount booth in the heart of Times Square. Many didn't think such a booth would be successful, but TKTS was a hit from the first day it opened its first ticket window in a donated construction trailer, and has gone on to be responsible for over 53 million admissions to thousands of Broadway and Off Broadway productions."
Charlotte St. Martin, Executive Director of the Broadway League, said "All the world is a stage, whether through the pinnacle of public office or through live entertainment on Broadway. Thanks to Mayor John Lindsay's very personal passion for theatre and his dedication to making Broadway accessible for every audience, his worthwhile contributions have helped enrich the vitality of communication and the arts in our city and our world."
Cristyne L. Nicholas, Chair of the Broadway Association, said "Mayor John Lindsay was to theater what the TKTS Booth is to Times Square...a central player in its success of accessibility and generator of new audiences. Now the two will be rightfully and historically be linked with this fitting tribute."
About John Lindsay and the Broadway Theatre:
John Lindsay was passionate about the theatre, appearing off-Broadway in a revival of "John Brown's Body" while serving in Congress (1959-65), and sponsoring legislation to repeal the 10 percent Federal tax on Broadway tickets. As Mayor (1966-73), he championed the Theatre District by creating a Special Zoning District to preserve old theatres and build new theatres. For the first time in decades, three new theatres were constructed, for which Lindsay was honored with a special Tony Award in 1973. He also launched the Times Square Enforcement Task Force in response to deteriorating conditions of the surrounding area, which started the process that cleaned up and ultimately redeveloped Times Square.
Seeing the growing financial difficulties of the theatre, Lindsay advocated for the creation of the TKTS booth, despite the opposition of some theatre owners. Launching in 1973, the TKTS booth was initially located in a trailer owned and provided by the City, under the Theatre Development Fund, which was chaired by then Parks Commissioner August Hecksher. Since that time, there has always been a member of the Lindsay family or administration on the Theatre Development Fund Board including his wife Mare for many years and continuing today with his Economic Development Administrator Ken Patton.
During his time as Mayor, Lindsay continued his love of performing on stage. When the play "Seesaw" was having difficulties, the curtain rose one night in 1973 revealing Lindsay in place of the lead actor, Ken Howard, who bore a strong physical resemblance to Lindsay. Lindsay performed the role for seven minutes with Howard's co-star, Michele Lee, garnering extensive press attention which lengthened the show's run.
On the tragic night of May 4, 1968, when Martin Luther King was killed, Lindsay was attending the Broadway opening of "The Education of Hyman Brown" starring Tom Bosley. Police quietly came to notify the Mayor, who left for Harlem, where he famously walked the streets and kept the peace while other cities were tragically erupting.
He established a new tradition for the Mayor to respond to the New York City press corps' annual "Inner Circle" show with a theatrical rebuttal of his own. Unlike his predecessors, who delivered humorous remarks, Lindsay startled the audience in 1966 with a song-and-dance with partners Florence Henderson and Rita Moreno. For most of his eight years, his original Inner Circle material was written by the legendary Broadway team of Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock. On leaving office, Lindsay gave the straw hat and cane he used in his Inner Circle performances to City Hall's Room Nine press corps where it is still displayed on the wall.
In 1985, Lindsay was asked by Lincoln Center to revive the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, which had closed in 1973. Becoming Chairman, he created a new board for the Lincoln Center Theatre and led a revival of what is today the nation's largest non-profit theatre company.
It is appropriate that on the 45th anniversary of Lindsay's first election as Mayor, his love and support of the Broadway community and theatre industry is remembered and memorialized at the TKTS booth, in whose creation he was instrumental.
Members of the Lindsay Family expected to attend the ceremony include Mayor Lindsay's brother Robert Lindsay, his sister-in-law Mary Lindsay, and three of his children, Kathy Lindsay Lake, Margi Lindsay Picotte and John Lindsay, Jr.
About Duffy Square and the new TKTS Booth:
Duffy Square is today defined by the iconic red glass steps that were completed in 2008 to house the new TKTS Booth. In 1999 the Theatre Development Fund sponsored an international competition, administered by the Van Alen Institute, to design a new, permanent booth which would transform both the park and Times Square. The winning design concept by Choi Ropiha was the catalyst for a complete redesign of the park, spearheaded by the Times Square Alliance and its realization was due in no small part to the great dedication and strength of spirit on the part of Major General Joseph Healey (Ret. US Army).
The Red Steps, designed by Perkins Eastman and engineered by Dewhurst MacFarlane and Partners, represent the cutting-edge of glass technology; red glass steps, supported on glass stringers and spanning all-glass, load-bearing walls, are illuminated from within by red L.E.D. lights. In addition, a geothermal system that descends 400 feet below Times Square, in between two subway lines, heats and cools the glass structure and fiberglass ticket booth, which itself was custom fabricated by the builders of America's Cup sailboats.
Following the ceremony, a private reception was held at Blue Fin Restaurant, co-hosted by the Times Square Alliance, Theatre Development Fund, Broadway League, and Broadway Association.
A video on the TKTS Booth at Duffy Square can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/user/NYCParksDepartment#p/search/0/kQwSUcYfqlA