This Sunday we will be joined by children’s book author and illustrator Joe McKendry. Joe’s book One Times Square: A Century of Change at the Crossroads of the World is a terrific look at the history, usage, and people of one location in New York City. Did you know the neighborhood used to be called Bloomingdale? Do you know what the “Zipper” in Times Square did? In what year did the New Year’s celebrations in Times Square start?
Discover these answers and more from Joe and from One Times Square on Sunday, December 8 at 2 pm. We asked Joe to answer some questions to get us ready for Sunday’s Meet the Author program.
1. What is your favorite time period in American history? Why?
I seem to be drawn to the late 1800s, early 1900s. I think it’s recent enough and well documented enough with photography and some video that we can really start to imagine what life would have been like. In some ways life wasn’t too different. In other ways it was VERY different – and I think those two aspects make it a really interesting time period.
2. What were you like as a kid?
I loved to climb trees and play in the woods. Lots of fishing and hanging out with friends. Looking back, the days and summers especially seemed to last forever. I was always interested in drawing – mostly cartoony type stuff until my later years in high school. I think even then I had a fascination with objects that had a story and history, like old coins.
3. What is your favorite place in New York City? Why?
I actually don’t know the city that well. I’m a Boston native, and really only started exploring New York while researching the book. I really love walking into the art galleries in Chelsea, and hanging out with friends in Brooklyn. But I’d have to say Central Park is my favorite. It’s really amazing that this huge swath of nature has been preserved in the city. And even though I’ve never lived in New York, I’ve spent enough time here that I know saving that enormous plot of land was absolutely essential in making New York a livable city.
4. What made you want to write One Times Square?
Times Square is fast paced, hyper modern, and flashy. But at one point horses and carriages plodded along its cobblestoned streets. I was really interested in taking a place that is universally known for its modernity, and contrasting that image with its lesser known past. Very few places in America have changed as dramatically as Times Square. And visually it’s amazing, which is fun for an illustrator.
5. What three words best describe One Times Square?
If you were to ask that question to New Yorkers in their 90’s, their 60’s and their teens you would get very different answers. Since I never lived in the city, the words I would use to describe it would be impressions that I’ve learned through reading about its history. So I’ll try to pick three words that reflect it through the years: glamorous, sleazy, capitalistic.
All illustrations by Joe McKendry.