About the Film
Miracle on 42nd Street is a feature length documentary about the unique apartment complex called Manhattan Plaza. Located on the block between 42nd and 43rd Streets in Manhattan’s historic theatre district, it is often called the “Miracle on 42nd Street” due to the near-miraculous effect the complex has had on the once-blighted neighborhood commonly known as Hell’s Kitchen,and on the lives of its residents. Seventy percent of the occupants work in the performing arts and thirty percent are Hell’s Kitchen residents who are elderly, disabled or have been relocated from substandard housing. The film tells the story of how this innovative affordable housing experiment came to be, the artists it has nurtured, the close community its residents and management have created and the positive impact it has had on the economy of Manhattan’s West Side.
The film is intended for festival release and to air on television. We hope that by making this film, the example of Manhattan Plaza will inspire new ways of thinking about affordable housing in cities around the globe. We believe that Manhattan Plaza's success was brought about by the creative community it housed, people whose dreams and goals might not have been realized had it not been for the opportunity of living in Manhattan Plaza. People like Broadway composer Alan Mencken, Terrence Howard, Alicia Keys, Tennessee Williams, Marin Alsop (groundbreaking female orchestra conductor), Dexter Gordon, Larry David, Charles Mingus, Mickey Rourke, Andrea McArdle (Broadway’s first Annie) and Sandy, her dog. Samuel L. Jackson worked there as a security guard in his first and only non-acting job!
By making this film, we want to tell the story of the pioneering people, community leaders, government and business people who joined together to resurrect a blighted neighborhood. We have dedicated ourselves to spreading awareness about “miracle” of Manhattan Plaza. It is a unique model of what can be achieved by bringing together over 3,500 people from differing cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds.
About the Filmmakers
The filmmakers, several of whom are current and former residents, are passionate about sharing the story of Manhattan Plaza with the world.
Mary Jo Slater (Producer) was an original tenant of Manhattan Plaza. As a working single mother, she was able to launch a successful career as an award-winning casting director while also supporting the career of her son, actor Christian Slater.
Alice Elliott (Director) is an Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker whose films are dedicated to celebrating the role of community activism in elevating the quality of people’s lives.
Erika Lockridge (Producer) of Bahr Productions has joined on as a producer because of her belief in the Manhattan Plaza concept of affordable housing. She has been instrumental in moving this project forward.
Cindy Cowan (Producer) is currently producing the feature RED LIGHTS starring Robert DeNiro. She is also a producer of VERY BAD THINGS with an all-star cast which included Cameron Diaz.
Ken Aguado (Executive Producer) .
History of Manhattan Plaza
Construction of the Manhattan Plaza buildings began in the early 1970’s as part of a revitalization plan for the Westside of Manhattan. They were originally planned as affordable housing for middle and upper income people who, it was hoped, would move in and revitalize the blighted area. As a result of New York City’s financial crisis, and the fact that middle class people did not want to move to Hell’s Kitchen, construction work stopped and the buildings sat vacant, the apartments un-rented. Out of what many saw as a failure, others saw as unique opportunity.
When developers, elected officials, community leaders, representatives of the theatrical industry and the federal government joined forces, no one could have predicted the outcome. They came up with a unique plan to convert the buildings to affordable housing for a targeted group, performers, and for the neighborhood’s poor. This energetic and creative population pioneered the crime-ridden neighborhood and, little by little, families and hard working artists replaced the prostitutes and drug dealers, restaurants and small businesses replaced the porn parlors and gang-controlled dive bars. Slowly, jobs were created, tourism increased, property values rose — all providing increased the City’s tax revenue. Manhattan Plaza and the West Side of New York were on their way.
“Manhattan Plaza is often called the ‘Miracle on 42nd Street’, and if I did nothing else in my life but be associated with that, my life would be complete. It is the type of place to live that has to be duplicated throughout the major cities of this country.” — Irving Fischer, Manhattan Plaza Builder
How You Can Help
Miracle on 42nd Street is at a rough cut stage and needs your help to secure finishing funds. Join our efforts in sharing the story of Manhattan Plaza with the world by contributing to this wonderful project.
What do Angela Lansbury, Larry David, Patrick Dempsey, Mickey Rourke, Tennessee Williams, Alicia Keys, Donald Faison, Christian Slater, Jane Alexander, Terrence Howard, Tom Fontana, John Spencer, Dexter Gordon, Charles Mingus, Alan Menken, Jack Warden, Gloria Graham, Thomas Meehan, Marge Champion, Martha Swope, Jim Vallely, Andrea McCardle (the original “Annie”), as well as Sandy (the dog from “Annie”) have in common? They all lived on the same block, in the middle of the area known as Hell’s Kitchen, between 42nd and 43rd Streets and 9th and 10th Avenues -- in Manhattan Plaza!
We are six filmmakers who share the belief that when government, forward-thinking developers and community leaders embark upon a unique concept and that concept succeeds beyond anyone’s imagination, it should be recognized and duplicated. Manhattan Plaza, often referred to as “The Miracle on 42nd Street”, is that unique concept. For the past thirty years, the building complex, taking up an entire city block, has provided an affordable, safe and supportive environment for its tenants, 70% of whom work in the performing arts. We believe that the story of how the building came to be, and the changes it brought about, is a story that must be told. It is a unique model of what can be achieved by bringing together over 3,500 people from differing cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds. We believe that Manhattan Plaza’s success was brought about by the creative community it housed, people whose dreams and goals might not have been realized had it not been for the opportunity of living in Manhattan Plaza.
Construction of the buildings began in the early 1970’s as part of a revitalization plan for the Westside of Manhattan. They were originally planned as affordable housing for middle income people. As a result of the City’s financial crisis, together with the undesirable location of the buildings, work stopped and the buildings sat vacant, the apartments un-rented. Out of what many saw as a failure, others saw as unique opportunity. The developers, elected officials, community leaders, representatives of the theatrical industry and the federal government joined forces.
No one could have predicted the outcome. The once crime-ridden streets became safer and filled with people. New restaurants and other businesses began to open in the vicinity of Manhattan Plaza. Property values rose, providing increased tax revenue to the City. Manhattan Plaza and the West Side of New York were on their way.
By making this film, we want to tell the story of the pioneering residents, community leaders, federal government and business people who joined together to resurrect a blighted neighborhood. We have dedicated ourselves to spreading awareness about the miracle of Manhattan Plaza.
We are creating a 90-minute film that we hope to release theatrically, air on television and screen at major film festivals around the world to bring attention to this remarkable complex and the people it houses. We hope that by making this film the example of Manhattan Plaza will inspire new ways of thinking about affordable housing in our cities.
To date, we have shot over 50 hours of footage. We are in the midst of assembling the film and editing a fundraising trailer at our production offices located in Manhattan Plaza. The trailer will include interviews with current residents, as well as celebrated former tenants including Angela Lansbury, Terrence Howard, Giancarlo Esposito, Larry David, and Donald Faison, as well as Samuel L. Jackson, who was one of the first security guards to work the night shift in the building!
Beautiful footage of the building and the community has been shot. We continue to acquire a comprehensive collection of archival materials and footage of the history of the Westside and Manhattan Plaza. Interviews have been conducted with current residents, as well as business and community leaders, who are contributing their stories, memorabilia, and perspectives.
Join our effort by contributing to this wonderful project. No donation is too small.
Donations of any size can be made by check or money order and made payable to Miracle on 42nd Street and mailed to:
Miracle on 42nd Street, Inc.
1430 Broadway, 17th Floor
New York, New York 10018
Attn: Teri Martin
212-971-0660 Ext. 278
Donate securely online. Click the link below to send money through Paypal to out email account: email@example.com.Send Money via Paypal
We are recognized by the IRS as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation (Federal ID #26-1595185). Therefore, all contributions are tax deductible.
For more information about the film or to share your own Manhattan Plaza stories,
please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Jo Slater