Times Square is Still A Mammoth S#!+show — But NYC Can Learn from London

A common scene in Times Square — pedestrians crammed into tight space, while drivers rule the road. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.
A common scene in Times Square — pedestrians crammed into tight space, while drivers rule the road. Photo: Clarence Eckerson Jr.

New York has done a world of good in Times Square — where a large pedestrian plaza offers respite from cars, and a place to sit, pause or meet friends.

But just outside the pedestrian zone is a total mess, especially just before and just after Broadway performances. Side streets are a constant cacophony of noise and unending gridlock with crowds pushed off inadequate sidewalks.

It is, in short, what Streetsblog calls #DeblasiosChaos.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. We could easily have a network of slow pedestrian-priority avenues or completely car-free streets surrounding the theater district and leading to Times Square. The solution is very simple: give more road space to the people using the streets the most (pedestrians) and stop allowing car-drivers to park and clog the roadways. It should be an easy decision by the city.

In this film, Streetsblog Publisher Mark Gorton walks around Times Square and is appalled — and he talks about how London’s theater district provides a model for how we could solve this problem.

  • AnoNYC

    Start with the pedestrianization of Broadway from Union Sq to Columbus Circle.

    It’s a shame the current mayoral administration has no interest in transforming the center city into a pedestrian dominated location.

  • Da Count

    I once stood on a corner at 44th Street, 8th Avenue at rush hour and quickly estimated with a count how many people were being served….

    About 30 people in cars.
    There were parked vehicles….so maybe another 15-20 people used those spaces.
    Maybe 3 or 4 bikes.
    On the sidewalks – pedestrians easily I estimated 250+ people.
    And who knows how many 1000s below my feet at the subway station.

    And they are all shoved on to the narrow sidewalks. Yet someone in a metal box surrounded by amenities, music, temperature control gets to control an extremely unfair amount of the street space – and doesn’t pay a single penny to do so!!

    This must change. All over this city. All over many cities.

  • VillageDenizen

    This is really a no-brainer. 40% of Broadway theaters are concentrated on 44th & 45th Sts between 6th and 8th Aves. Just closing those 4 blocks – just 1 eastbound and 1 westbound street – to traffic from say noon to midnight – would make a huge difference when Broadway show crowds are largest.

  • HamTech87

    Thank you for the comparison with London. You are so right. There shouldn’t be any motorists anywhere near the theaters.
    And fwiw, NYC’s Eighth Avenue is horrible.

  • 1 Less Car

    Wait until the car heads come out… “what about the disabled….and the seniors (because, you know, after 55, you can’t walk). So I say, sure, setup a parking lot for those user with golf cart shuttles. Let the cops actually verify the placards and no garbage NYC parking placards.

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