Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Hate Times Square

I am a New Yorker.  I was born there 34 years ago and lived there for 27 years, with a 4 year stint about two hours north of it for college.  I love New York City so very much.  I like to say that if you live in New York City, you always live with another person, and that's New York City.  A living and breathing thing. 

Having said that, I hate Times Square.  I was in a cab that took me through Times Square and it reminded me of how much I missed the old New York. 

Some history for people, Times Square was originally named Longacre Square until the New York Times moved their headquarters there to 1 Times Square, which is the building they drop the ball from every year.  They are no longer in that building.  They actually moved out of it 10 years after they moved in..  The area was very popular in the 1900's, and fell into decline around the 60's and through the 80's.  In the early 90's the state took control of some of the historical theaters and a group of corporations and the city turned the tide between 1995 and 2000.  The Disney Store opened and that was when you knew the Square was different. 

I hate Times Square for two reasons.  The first is that I froze my ass off there as a cop for 4 years, surrounded by morons from out of town who were confused why there were so many people there.  I had some girl in 2000 tell me she needed to meet her friends about 10 blocks away but there were people in the way.  I was like "Lady, it's the millenium.  You should have thought ahead."  And it took forever to warm up and 30 seconds to get cold again. 

But the real reason I hate Times Square is because it's not part of New York City.  It's full of tourists all surrounded by dazzling lights of chains that they have 10 miles from their homes.  I took some photos in the cab. 

These are what I'm sure are the flagship locations for these middling restaurant chains.  I totally understand why tourists eat here.  The city can be so confusing and loud and there are so many choices, that you end up choosing something familiar.

But that's not why you come to New York City.  You come here to marvel at it being the city that never sleeps. And that doesn't mean Times Square where you tourists choose not to sleep.  A place where you can get anything you want anytime day or night.  A place that's different.  This is not different.  I saw a line at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.  Are you fucking kidding me?  Do the people going there even remember the movie that title comes from?

Times Square used to be seedy and dangerous.  With hookers and porno theaters.  It wasn't really dangerous, but it kept the tourists away.  Times Square was a rude awakening for people arriving to the city for the first time.  And it should be.  The city should give you a gut punch, almost as if to say, "You sure you're ready for this?" So that when you do make it, you feel an accomplishment.  You can call yourself a New Yorker.  Navigating Times Square is no more exciting or dangerous than walking from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom now and it's sad.  But the saddest thing is that those people who marvel at it, don't even know how special it used to be. Here's a video. of how it used to look before it got "cleaned up"


Anonymous said...

Rumor has it you used to LOVE Times Square, back in the old days, when it was filled with hookers and porno houses.

They cleaned it up because of perverts like you.

alohab said...

i love nyc, but never a big fan of times square myself. perhaps because i was introduced to the city by people who really knew the of them being you!

i know what you mean about the chain restaurants. i will never understand why people come all the way to hawaii and then eat at chilis and outback steakhouse. or worse yet, only eat at mcdonald's and taco bell. there is always a line at red lobster in waikiki, when there are about 100 restaurants in a 5 block radius.

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