Times Square transformed into a of sea of cheap lounge chairs; New York Times rejoices
Posted by danishova on May 30, 2009
Photo caption: Bill Sayers, 76, has been coming to Times Square his whole life. He said he never imagined he would be lounging in sun in the middle of Broadway.
Nicolai Ouroussoff enthusiastically reports:
When New York City announced a plan to shut down parts of Times Square to traffic, New Yorkers’ reactions ranged from bemusement to mild hysteria. Despite reassurances from the Transportation Department that the changes would create a greener, more pedestrian-friendly city, some critics of the plan worried that it would sap the square of its chaotic energy. Others, apparently nostalgic for the seediness of the 1970s version of the square, denounced it as another step in New York’s transformation from the world’s greatest metropolis to a generic tourist trap.
Huh? I get the impression that Nicolai Ouroussoff’s personal knowledge of New York is fairly limited. Times Square has already been transformed and has not been ‘seedy’ since Rudy Guiliani was the Mayor. But how does objecting to the lounge-chairing of Times Square equate to being nostalgic for 1970’s seediness?
Oh well, what an economic boon this will be for New York! Tourists will swarm to the new “generic” Times Square, eager to spend their vacations enjoying the sight of the proletariat littering the asphalt streets with tacky lounge chairs, “greened” by the occasional potted plant. Kinda like the poor man’s cruise, available for free on Sundays for the huddled masses.
Well, I’m happy to report that, a day after the stretch of Broadway between 42nd and 47th Streets was closed to cars, the soul of Times Square remains intact. The neon still sparkles. Tourists still wander around bewildered. The whiff of last night’s junk food still hangs in the air.
In other words, it stinks.
Nor is the new pedestrian mall a cataclysmic shift in New York’s identity. Cities as diverse as London, Copenhagen and Melbourne have managed to reduce the number of cars in the city center without losing their urban character. And part of Times Square’s value, from the days of its notoriety as a porn haven to the Walt Disney Company’s takeover of 42nd Street, has been as a kind of instant snapshot of how the city sees itself. Its next incarnation will have as much to do with broad economic and social changes that New York is undergoing as with a few planters and chairs.
So, it’s another Obamaoist idea. The streets belong to the people and their lounge chairs! Yes we can! Since this whole project is a brainstorm of the Billionaire Mayor Bloomberg and his crack staffers, I really think he should open up Gracie Mansion and the East River promenade to Lounge chairs. It’ll be a squatters paradise!
Be sure to check out the slide show which features children in a circle with sidewalk chalk writing some kind of slogans in front of the Military Recruiting center. I couldn’t make out much of the chalk writing, but I’m quite sure one of the words was GREEN, something I did not see in any abundance. But hey, they got rid of those damned yellow cabs.