MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan: What’s Good for Times Square Is Good for America

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Should a pedestrian-friendly Times Square serve as a model for other American cities? Who would ask such a thing? Certainly not the real New Yorkers who constitute the city’s hard-bitten press corps.

No, for meaningful analysis of the use of public space, it’s best to look elsewhere. Case in point: MSNBC’s “The Dylan Ratigan Show,” which recently dedicated a full eight minutes to the redesigned Times Square. Spurred by the report that air quality has improved since Broadway traffic lanes were reclaimed for pedestrians, Ratigan asked Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, and Ben Goldhirsh, publisher of GOOD Magazine, whether such measures are “good for America.”

Ratigan, who used to work in Times Square, was once a skeptic, but two years later he’s a convert who ultimately makes no bones about his “bias.” Yet he still manages to hold a rational discussion about car-free spaces, punctuated by facts and figures, leaving the hysterics and fear-mongering to the pros.

  • Great video.

    The story told here parallels almost perfectly the stories heard in Europe when they first started pedestrianizing their downtowns in the early 1970’s. Downtown business owners said it would kill their businesses only to see the area thrive afterwards and for those original naysayers to then be total converts.

  • LazyReader

    Yeah, in the suburb I live in, we’d love to have highrise buildings, neon signs, LED stock tickers and constant video stimulation 24 hours a day. Bubba Gump shrimp and The Lion King musical and porn theatres every 450 feet. Are they fuckin’ retarded.

  • Youngstown, Buffalo, Michigan City, Providence, St. Louis and many more cities throughout the country pedestrianized portions of their downtowns in the 60s and 70s only to find that it completely killed those streets. Not every city has a volume of pedestrians like NYC, and if you let them wander all over the street and eliminate vehicle traffic, it can make the whole affair seem pretty desolate and inactive. There are some notable exceptions that were successful like Denver.

  • They may not be slam dunks, but they can work well if done right. Just because those plans failed in the 70s doesn’t mean they would fail today.

  • I agree with Cap’n! Many small American cities would do well to pedestrianize their downtowns where I’m sure they would have failed in the 1970s. New Brunswick NJ which has a bustling downtown with more peds that cars is a good example near me.

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