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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 2:23 PM
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Smile NEW YORK | City Struggles With Population of Times Square

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/ny...=nyregion&_r=1

Times Square’s Crushing Success Raises Questions About Its Future





By CHARLES V BAGLI
JAN. 26, 2015


Quote:

The Crossroads of the World has never been more popular. And that is becoming a problem.

More people than ever are packing into Times Square — from across the world, the country and the rest of New York City.

Eager to dip into such a bounty of wallets, international retailers are jostling for space, paying rents that are second only to Fifth Avenue. Pulsing, color-splashed digital billboards have grown from the size of basketball courts to football-field proportions. Attendance at Broadway shows topped 13 million last year for the first time.


With all this going for it, why are so many landlords, office tenants and theater owners worried about the future of Times Square?

The same reason that retailers and advertisers lust after a Times Square location is the same reason that others now find it unbearable: the crowds.

Some office workers and corporate clients complain bitterly of having to navigate thick and sometimes unyielding knots of tourists in various hot spots — including a giant video billboard outside the “Good Morning America” studios and a digital wraparound sign at the Marriott Marquis Hotel — just to get in and out of office buildings. A 30-minute lunch is nearly impossible because restaurants are jammed with visitors.

Howard S. Fiddle, vice chairman at the real estate services company CBRE, said, “It’s so successful as a tourist destination that people say it’s too congested for New Yorkers to conduct business.”

Few landlords are willing to talk about the issue publicly for fear of turning their concerns into reality. But companies are dealing with the problem in small and large ways.

A skyscraper at 1540 Broadway, for instance, offers an eighth-floor cafeteria and a gym so employees of several companies, such as Viacom and Pillsbury, do not have to step outside.

The pitch from real estate brokers for renovated office space in the former headquarters of The New York Times Company, on 43rd Street, just outside the most congested parts of the neighborhood, is simple: You get all of the benefits of the transportation network without the negative of the crowds.

Some executives insist on walking away from Times Square for meetings, lunch or a drink. “I generally lived my life east of the building,” said Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, who until recently worked at 42nd Street and Broadway.

Indeed, a test of the area’s desirability as an office district is underway at 4 Times Square, the 48-story tower erected in 1999, just as the area was shedding its dowdy, crime-ridden reputation.

Condé Nast, the publisher of Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, GQ and others, had occupied half the building since it opened. The company moved downtown in November, and the other tenant, the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, has signed a tentative agreement to move to a new office tower near Penn Station.

There were a number of overarching reasons, such as economics, for the departure of Skadden Arps and Condé Nast. But conditions in Times Square lurked in the background.

“There was some desire to get out of Times Square,” said one lawyer at Skadden Arps, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the firm. “Everyone agreed, it’s awful there. People would go well out of their way to avoid Times Square.”

Eric J. Friedman, executive partner at Skadden Arps, did not return calls requesting comment.

Members of the Times Square Alliance, a business organization, are closely watching the pace of leasing there to see how quickly the 1.8-million-square-foot tower refills.

“Crowding in Times Square is a big problem right now,” said Tim Tompkins, president of the alliance. “It’s not just the costumed characters, but all the different people who are hawking and hustling there.”

Theater owners are enjoying record attendance. But some of them are also worried that the proportion of tourists is on the rise while the number of New Yorkers is declining. That does not bode well, they say, when the high tide of tourism inevitably begins to ebb.

“I think everybody is concerned about the crowding issue,” said Robert E. Wankel, co-chief executive of the Shubert Organization, which operates 17 theaters. “We’re having a problem from our success. We spent a lot of time and effort cleaning up Times Square and now it’s the place everyone wants to be.”

These are a far different set of problems for Times Square than in the 1970s and 1980s, when the area was packed with pornography shops, massage parlors, prostitutes, pimps and drug dealers. New Jersey commuters arriving at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, just west of Times Square, routinely avoided 42nd Street, as did many retailers and corporate office tenants.


But a concerted effort by state and city officials to rejuvenate the area began to pay off in the 1990s. Developers built skyscrapers and attracted tenants with special tax incentives. There were new hotels and residential buildings. Retailers returned to Times Square.

The American Eagle Outfitters store at Broadway and 46th Street was once home to the Gaiety Theater, a gay male strip club. The commuters who used to avoid the Victory Theater, where the 42nd Street marquee promised “Best Porn XXX in Town,” now flock to the child-friendly New Victory Theater in a beautifully restored building.

Since 1996, the number of tourists visiting Times Square every year has doubled to an estimated 40 million. The tourists have attracted a growing number of people dressed as Elmo, Spider-Man and other cartoon characters.

The latest crowd surge in Times Square began in 2009, after the city closed a stretch of Broadway between 42nd and 47th Streets, creating a series of public plazas and nearly doubling the amount of pedestrian space. As a result, the number of pedestrians in Times Square has jumped to as high as 480,000 a day, from about 350,000 before 2009.


“Foot traffic has increased,” said Jeffrey S. Katz, who owns several buildings in Times Square. “The retail is doing great; hotels are doing great. The plazas just exploded the rents. It’s beyond even my imagination.”

Annual rents for street-level retail space have quadrupled since 2008, according to Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate broker.

The digital billboards slung across nearly every building in Times Square are also booming, with one executive estimating that they generate more than $100 million a year in ad revenue. The new sign at the Marriott, eight stories tall, generates more than $2.5 million in four weeks.

Yet, average rents for office space are still well below where they were before 2007. Some of the companies that were part of the Times Square resurgence in the 1990s, like the mass media company Bertelsmann, have left. Still, Times Square has been able to attract a number of technology and Internet companies, including Microsoft, Snapchat, China Central Television and Yahoo.

A survey conducted by the Times Square Alliance in May found that one of every four building owners, office workers and property managers in Times Square was “dissatisfied” with overcrowding, the construction of the plazas and the costumed characters.

“The recent overcrowding problems of Times Square have been caused in part by the construction of the plazas,” said Douglas Durst, chairman of the Durst Organization, which owns 4 Times Square. He also said the city needed to address what he described as a proliferation of aggressive costumed characters and vendors that have contributed to the gridlock.

All are hoping to avoid a situation Yogi Berra once described: “No one goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”

“Our concern,” said Ellen Goldstein, vice president for planning and policy at the alliance, “is that the public realm is so unpleasant that we may at some point hit a tipping point, where companies won’t take space in Times Square. We’re not there yet, but the data is telling us we could get there.”
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  #2  
Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 2:27 PM
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Some pics from the 20 Times Square thread...


http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/show...=202008&page=7


Scenes from the area today, including the new billboard at the Marriott, world's largest HD screen...


1.



2.



3.



4.



5.



6.



7.



8.



9.





And a live view...




Video Link




Video Link
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  #3  
Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 2:36 PM
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The more tourists decide to spend their time there, the better it is for New Yorkers. They can put money into the local economy and create tourism-related jobs without bothering the locals.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 2:37 PM
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NYC just feels incredibly crowded now - the subway, the streets, NJ transit, Penn Station...
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 2:42 PM
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The city is taking proactive steps to increase tourism outside of Manhattan. This area will always be the mecca of tourist concentration, and likewise, Midtown in general.. I tend to love stats, and I hope they do a study on the daytime population in Manhattan by 2020. Currently, a study by NYU put the average weekday population at 4 million (typical weekday). Curious how it will jump in the next 5 years.

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NYC just feels incredibly crowded now - the subway, the streets, NJ transit, Penn Station...
Especially in December. Take the normal daytime population, and now add the surge of shoppers and visitors. The streets and sidewalks where clogged the days I went.

NJ transit I agree on. Being a rider, the rush hour is getting to the point where they probably should add more train cars.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 2:46 PM
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"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 2:51 PM
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I personally love incredibly crowded areas and never miss the chance to go to Times Square anytime Im in NYC.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 2:56 PM
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Yeah I think thats the charm of NYC. It adds to the experience. The crowds, the sirens, the Nation of Islam protesting, the random yelling, the honking, the guy by the WTC in a wheel chair with beats by dre (he's always there), the buses who block the box, jaywalker mecca, and so on. No where else in the U.S. do you get such an experience of chaotic beauty. Everywhere else is provincial compared to the Manhattan street experience.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 2:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."
Seriously though, New Yorkers don't unless they're dragged kicking and screaming or have the misfortune of their office being located there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by photoLith View Post
I personally love incredibly crowded areas and never miss the chance to go to Times Square anytime Im in NYC.
I suppose it's nice if it's a novelty.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 3:04 PM
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Ya midtown manhattan sucks. Tons of chains, drug stores, overpriced crap and tourists... yuck.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 3:11 PM
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Well, there are genuine discomforts to experiencing extreme crowding on a regular basis that are not immediately perceptible through the relaxed and leisurely lens of a tourist.

For starters, most shops and restaurants offer things of "tourist quality" at "tourist prices". Getting to work on crowded sidewalks is a real pain, if one is in a hurry. Waiting half an hour in line for a coffee, same problem. Constantly being bombarded with others' mindless happiness while having a mundane and boring day, very annoying... but maybe that one's just me.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 4:48 PM
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meanwhile, brookfield (manhattan west) and related + oxford (hudson yards) are licking their chops!
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 5:23 PM
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Some density and plaza shots taken via earthcam (couple months old as I used these to document the plaza progress)





The shot above is on a good day. Even without the contruction, its still a ant colony. Most of Midtown on a weekday is like this. Peak pedestrian density for most of the area and midtown in general is at 4 or 5pm.





Random fantastic 4 mutation on the plaza.



Concert Utilizing the new space.



Some Ferguson protests:



More protests:



Plaza coming along. Has a nice luster in the rain.



First day of the big ass billboard lighting up. If only the hippies knew about this in the 70's. Acid paradise.



Earlier this morning. Post Blizzard peak.


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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 6:09 PM
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I think every city should aspire to have at least one or two really busy and vibrant areas like this. Is there anywhere else in NA that comes anywhere near the foot traffic level? I can't think of any. Maybe somewhere in Mex.C?
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 6:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
I think every city should aspire to have at least one or two really busy and vibrant areas like this. Is there anywhere else in NA that comes anywhere near the foot traffic level? I can't think of any. Maybe somewhere in Mex.C?
The only city I can think of is Orlando/Kissimmee Area, and most of this foot traffic is within its massive resorts/parks. Vegas on the weekends or Friday night in terms of foot traffic is very busy.

Outside of the U.S. in N.A., yeah Mexico City in terms of peak density.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 6:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."





Quote:
Originally Posted by 10023 View Post
The more tourists decide to spend their time there, the better it is for New Yorkers. They can put money into the local economy and create tourism-related jobs without bothering the locals.

Yeah, God bless those tourists. Sure, it can be annoying when they block sidewalks, but they're actually walking $$$ as far as the City is concerned. Tourism is one of the top industries in New York.

I do have mixed feelings about Times Square, even though I'm in the area a lot (when I'm in a real hurry, I avoid it if I can remember to).

But as far as the crowds go, it's Times Square, it's supposed to be crowded. I was very against the decision to put those plazas there, but with the new construction (and removal of the tables) it's actually not bad. There's no way Times Square could handle the crowds it has now if that didn't happen.

That being said, I do believe there is a limit to how much that area can handle at one time. That's why I believe the district should be extended down Broadway to Herald Square (34th St) and then on to 34th/7th Ave, both of those intersections looking more like Times Square each day - and both just as crowded at times - but the extension along Broadway would stretch the tourists herds out.

This is already starting to happen to some degree...
http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/show...&postcount=126


Some people complain about the costumed characters, but I find them humorous. Every time.

And let's face it. Lots of Manhattans streets are overcrowded, and you can't blame that on the tourists.

Times Square is just a good backdrop for photos, a place to stop and look.



http://time.com/3632806/santacon-new-york-christmas/




http://www.vintag.es/2014/12/old-pho...years-eve.html














http://mic.com/articles/77829/this-i...e-back-in-1904






http://designyoutrust.com/2012/10/ph...ugh-the-years/


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Last edited by NYguy; Jan 27, 2015 at 6:59 PM.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 6:51 PM
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^^ 53,000,000 people per year (over 153,000 per day) pass through Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto. It's really taking off now as major international retailers are setting up shop in the area.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 7:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nouvellecosse View Post
I think every city should aspire to have at least one or two really busy and vibrant areas like this. Is there anywhere else in NA that comes anywhere near the foot traffic level? I can't think of any. Maybe somewhere in Mex.C?
hmm, maybe around the main zocalo square on some days or the big open market areas like merced on most days? merced is certainly typically a massive sprawl of humanity. thats all i can think of right off the top.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 7:29 PM
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Some memorable moments amongst Elmo and Cookie Monster. Optimus prime also weighs in on the issue. Spiderman also has an attitude. Mario's a player with two chicks (hello kitties).

Video Link


And...

Elmo vs Spongebob Argument:

Video Link




Elmo needs to relax. Under the red skin, theres someone who needs love. He was probably high as his pupils are the size if dinner plates.
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Old Posted Jan 27, 2015, 8:05 PM
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Seattle's Pike Place Market has similar issues. The crowds are obviously smaller but they're in hallways, narrow alleys, and even narrower sidewalks, and the logjam of people can take forever to walk through.

If you live in an area like that you can develop crowd-walking skills, allowing you to weave through far more quickly. But tourists generally haven't. And many locals haven't. On my visits, I think I'm the fastest pedestrian in Manhattan.
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