How Times Square was reborn

By ZHANG RUINAN in New York | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-11-05 05:17

How Times Square was reborn

Times Square in New York City is always bustling with people and traffic in New York City. PHOTOS BY JUDY ZHU / CHINA DAIL

Commitment to redevelopment swapped out sex shops and drugs for a retail paradise for pedestrians

Ask people about their impression of New York City's Times Square, and busy, crowded and crazy might be the top three answers you get. But as recently as the 1980s, the neighborhood was known as "the sleaziest and most dangerous block in America".

The transformation reflects the long and tortuous redevelopment of Times Square that began about 40 years ago.

"Times Square has always been this place that is ever changing and always a kind of reflection of what people love and hate about New York City," said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, a non-profi t founded in 1992 that works to improve and promote Times Square.

"It was a very dangerous place back in the 1980s," he said. "Forty-second Street was literally the most dangerous block in the America; you basically couldn't go down there without being subjected to crimes."

Back then, pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts and dope pushers prowled the area.

It projected an image very different from today's Times Square, which is now known as the "Cross-roads of the World".

Today, Morgan Stanley, Allianz Global Investors and Viacom make their corporate homes there (as does China Daily USA); Broadway shows attract audiences totaling more than 13 million a year; and Times Square souvenir shops sell T-shirts, statues, magnets, pens and mugs to about 60 million visitors from all over the world.

Though it comprises only 0.1 per-cent of New York City's land area, Times Square supports 7 percent of the city's jobs and generates 15 percent of its economic output, according to the alliance.

"Times Square became the symbol of whether the government had either the will or the capacity to make the city safe," said Tompkins.

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