Mickey moves in on the pimps

IF THERE was a law to prevent companies from taking over entire cities, rather than just other corporations, it would surely have been triggered by now in the case of Disney and New York, writes David Usborne.

Barely a pimple on the Big Apple landscape until recently, the house of Mickey Mouse is suddenly casting a shadow over it longer than that of the Empire State Building.

The acquisition of Capital Cities-ABC, and with it large tracts of office space, is only one more advance in the Disney invasion. In a matter of weeks, the company that we commonly associate with Los Angeles and Orlando has taken a remarkable hold over New York and in particular over its traditionally seediest part - the Times Square neighbourhood.

It started in June when Disney paid $1m (pounds 625,000) to take over the Great Lawn in Central Park for a single day for a whizz-bang outdoor premiere of its latest animated block-buster, Pocahontas. Shortly afterwards, it announced grand- iose plans for huge hotel and retail complex on the other side of the street on the corner of Eighth Avenue. Then two weeks ago, Disney's chairman, Michael Eisner, struck a much-vaunted deal with City Hall to install itself in the historic but long-abandoned Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street, just off the Square.

The arrival of Disney has unlocked more or less overnight the decade- long paralysis that had afflicted efforts to rescue Times Square and its environs from the brigades of pimps, pushers and tricksters. The Amsterdam deal is sweetened by a generous $34m subsidy for its refurbishment from the city. Once completed, it will stage Broadway productions of Disney creations. Pocahontas the Musical might just be the first offering. Meanwhile several other partners are joining a wider effort to revive 42nd Street.

The Eighth Avenue development will include massive retail space for Disney to market its various theme toys and products - in addition to another Disney store projected to open on Fifth Avenue next year - as well as a soaring hotel and condominium tower, the design of which is meant to depict a meteor crashing to earth. Every hour, clouds of Pixie dust will be released from its base to fall on passers-by below.

To city planners, Disney is like a gift from heaven. No better antidote to the squalid decrepitude of Times Square could be found on Earth than the company that is the very symbol of Snow White innocence and family fun. For those who dare venture that the rotten core was actually integral to New York's wider appeal, all hope is surely lost. Mickey may not yet have swallowed the Apple whole, but has certainly taken a good bite: Mr Eisner must just be hoping it is not poisoned.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power