Times Square has been dubbed “the crossroads of the world” and popular folklore suggests that if you stand in Times Square long enough the whole world will pass you by. In recent years, the cultural hub and world icon had become so popular that the sidewalks were too crowded and there was an overall lack of space for pedestrians.
Taking a cue from many European cities, Traffic Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan plans to reclaim various areas of New York from cars for pedestrian use. The stretch of Broadway from 47th Street to 42nd Street has already been transformed into a car free plaza. Suddenly there’s more room to walk around and enjoy the scenery. People are taking photographs from new perspectives, interacting with other tourists, and enjoying the seating that Times Square had previously lacked.
In conjunction with pedestrianized Broadway, the adjacent Father Duffy Square has been expanded to create a huge space for people. The TKTS booth has also been replaced with something truly special. The new structure was behind schedule and took years to complete, but it certainly was worth the wait! The ticketing counter is contained in a molded, pod-like structure with a sloped roof. That roof is a stepped seating area made entirely of glass and illuminated from within. It has a futuristic look and feel which blends seamlessly with the flashy and bright surroundings.
The project’s goal was to create a space that would encourage people to congregate, similar to the way the Spanish Steps do in Rome. People are seeing the whole scene from a birds eye vantage point…a larger than life spectacle of people, lights, and architecture.
With car free streets full of chairs and tables, and an expanded Father Duffy Square, there is finally enough space to accommodate the huge crowds attracted by the excitement of Times Square. I’ve even noticed that local New Yorkers aren’t feeling so squeezed out by tourists anymore. They’re stopping and enjoying their Times Square in a more relaxed way. Instead of just rushing through as quickly as possible, you can see them stop to experience the joy of reclaiming the streets.
- Will Bradford