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A Frontier With a View on the Far West Side

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STANDING on the corner of 10th Avenue and 33rd Street, opposite the high concrete barrier that surrounds the railyards, it is just possible to imagine what the far West Side of Midtown Manhattan looked like not long ago. There are parking lots and parking garages, a McDonald’s, and a boarded-up Irish pub, and not much else. Car traffic is heavy, and foot traffic is sparse.

Michael Roth, who is 56 and grew up in Brooklyn, owned a garage a few blocks south in the late 1970s. “During those days,” he recalled recently, “all you had was prostitutes, pimps, more prostitutes, more pimps, drug dealing like you’ve never seen before. It was a horrible place to be.”

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