They’ve Ruined Times Square

New York City has closed off Times Square and turned it into a pedestrian mall. The excitement is gone.

times-square-daytime-empty.jpgNew York City has ruined Times Square! Is that blunt enough? They have changed the entire complexion of the “Crossroads of America” by removing vehicular traffic–and it sucks!

I’m a Times Square guy. I’ve been going there since I was a little kid. I remember when it was a scuzzy strip of sleaze. No regrets from me those days are over. The family friendly, advertising overgrown, garishly bright Times Square that replaced the sleaze was magical.

No more.

The secret of Times Square was you were walking through a city in perpetual motion. The traffic on Broadway and 7th Avenue just reinforced that ‘heart of the city’ feel. The lights from the cars and trucks and the sound of their horns performed as an underscore does in a movie.

times-square-empty-at-night.jpgGone! It’s gone. New York City has closed off Times Square and turned it into a pedestrian mall. The excitement is gone.

When we were in New York last week I originally thought we’d picked a dead night. Nope.

With broad spaces of the square open the feeling of the crowd is gone! Every night feels like a dead night. There is too much space in a city which prides itself on the optimum use of too little.

I’m sure there are good reasons for this move, but they’re lost on me. Times Square has now been fully “Disneyized!’ It’s disappointing.

ruby-red-staircase-times-square.jpgThis blog entry could easily end right here, but there is one thing that was done right–the rebuilding of the TKTS facility in the northern end of Times Square. A ruby red staircase has been placed over TKTS stretching toward the statue of Father Duffy.

This wide open access staircase was constantly full of tourists with cameras during my trips through the area. It’s a great vantage point from which to view the surroundings.

It would be better with traffic flowing around it.


5 thoughts on “They’ve Ruined Times Square”

  1. I don’t remember myself when Times Square went “carr free”, Geoff, but you are right. It does lose some of its magic without the traffic around.

    But the pictures are spectacular – especially the one of the TKTS facility.

  2. I’m willing to suspend judgment. Agree that in the short term the energy is missing. But I don’t think auto traffic is the only proxy for energy. Some pedestrian malls in the U.S. are great spaces (I’m thinking little Boulder Colo. here) on weekends because of the street entertainers who set up shop there. Imagine what Times Square could attract if the city set up some sort of infrastructure to provide a constant flow of top-flight public performers? It’d be 24/7 energy and you wouldn’t have to dodge cabs.

    I’d give ’em a year and see what they come up with.

  3. As someone who has been stuck in way too many traffic jams due to the rerouting of vehicles around Times Square, I’m with you. The change has caused more problems than it’s solved, for sure.

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