42nd STREET: RIVER TO RIVER is an impressionistic, graphic history of one of the world’s most infamous streets: Manhattan’s 42nd Street. Likened to a DNA strip of New York City, the street has ranged from the glamorous to the derelict, housing everything from peep shows to such international institutions as the United Nations.
The documentary is an exploration of the street’s expansion from the farmland where Washington bivouacked his troops to the flashy, commercial center that it is today. The film augments historical information with musical performances and personal narratives by such luminaries as THE WRESTLER’s Mickey Rourke, Michael Imperioli of “The Sopranos,” long-time Broadway dancer/actress/singer Liliane Montevecchi, restaurateur Jean Claude Baker (adopted son of the famous Josephine Baker), and Father Pete Colapietro, who runs 42nd Street’s Holy Cross Church and neighborhood foodbank. The film traces the rise, subsequent dilapidation, and eventual resurgence of a street that has come to represent a place where, notoriously, anything may and has happened. The storyline includes the 1850’s World’s Fair at the Crystal Palace, Jackie Onassis’ campaign to save Grand Central Terminal, and the new green megastructure of the Bank of America tower at One Bryant Park. The original musical score composed and performed by 2009 Latin Jazz Grammy Award winner Arturo O’Farrill, and his band, which included vocalists Tye Stevens and Hilary Kole.