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

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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.


Our Parks Are Secure. What About Our Streets?

When are the police finally going to reclaim the streets from speeding and dangerous driving? When will pedestrians and cyclists be able to feel safe and secure on New York City streets? Photo: Bryan Goebel. For decades New Yorkers feared public spaces like Times Square, Herald Square and Bryant Park. They feared the people who […]

Why Is Bill de Blasio Afraid of Safer, Saner Streets?

It was hard to miss mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio as he made the media rounds yesterday. After positioning himself as the “outer borough” candidate on the local Fox morning show, de Blasio — who voted against congestion pricing and the transit funds that would have come with it — traveled to Washington Heights to […]

It’s de Blasio and Bratton vs. the World on Times Square Plazas

Let’s start with some basic facts: Most people like Times Square better now that it has more room for people. Gone are the days when the sidewalks were so meager that you had no choice but to walk in traffic. After Broadway went car-free through Times Square in 2009, pedestrian injuries plummeted 40 percent. Retail rents soared. And yet, going against […]

Bratton Won’t Stop Talking About Removing Times Square Plazas

It wasn’t just an offhand remark. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has reiterated his desire to eliminate the public plazas at Times Square and go back to the days when people were spilling off the sidewalk into the path of traffic. This time, he’s insisting that taking away space for people won’t just cure Times Square of topless women and costumed […]

Times Square BID Leader on the Art of Street Reclamation

This used to be the scene of gridlocked traffic. Photo: berk2804 Seven years ago, when Tim Tompkins took over as president of the Times Square Alliance, one of New York’s largest BIDs, security and cleanliness were the top concerns. Despite incessant traffic and "pedlock," few decision-makers were focused, at first, on the vision of Times […]

Times Square: Too Many People, or Just Too Many Cars?

Why is Times Square so crowded? An article in yesterday’s New York Times considered that question, asking real estate brokers if businesses might be shying away from the area due to packed streets and sidewalks. According to a survey cited in the article, 68 percent of Times Square office workers say congestion is the top […]