HOW TIMES SQUARE WAS REBORN
Commitment to redevelopment swapped out sex shops and drugs for a retail paradise for pedestrians
businesses, according to Sagalyn.
“The second initiative was the midtown zoning resolution in 1982, which defined a special district in midtown to encourage development to move westward,” Sagalyn said.
These zoning rules allowed for major retail stores on Fifth Avenue and protected landmark theaters in the entertainment sub-district around Times Square. Experts credit these regulations with helping to transform the once-seedy square into an international destination and fostering development further west.
The significant tax incentives got people to build either hotels or office towers there, Tompkins explained.
“The idea was if you brought a bunch of positive activities to the place, the tourists and people would just walk to the neighborhood and that would provide some counterpoint to the negative activities associated with the sex industry,” he said.
Ultimately these public policy tools did make a difference, said Tompkins.
In 1990, the city established The New 42nd Street, a nonprofit dedicated to the revitalization of 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, arguably the neighborhood’s most dangerous and dicey area.
A shift in how police were deployed and managed put into effect by thenMayor David Dinkins and later by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also helped, Tompkins said.
Times Square didn’t stop changing. In 2009, the city closed parts of Broadway to traffic, turning it into a major pedestrian plaza.
The experiment was such a success that the city decided to make it permanent. Officials hired the architectural firm Snøhetta the following year to design a new permanent plaza that added 110,000 square feet of pedestrian space, 10 50-foot-long granite benches and designated activity zones to improve the pedestrian traffic flow through the area.
The neighborhood has come a long way, but, as Tompkins says, “Times Square is always going to be crazy, chaotic and full of surprises. It’s a part of the urban experience — a little bit messy, but that’s OK.”
“Times Square is always going to be crazy, chaotic and full of surprises. It’s a part of the urban experience — a little bit messy, but that’ s OK.” “The second initiative was the midtown zoning resolution in 1982, which defined a special district in midtown ... ”
Times Square in New York City is always bustling with people and traffic in New York City.
A heart-shaped display in Times Square on Valentine’s Day 2017.