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Times Square NYC

Times-Square Is The Dystopian Hell-Scape We Were Told To Fear

There are a few places in the Big Apple that real New Yorkers avoid like the plague and no single place is more avoided en masse than Times Square. It is Dante’s Seventh Circle, the lake of fire, and the Sarlacc pit all rolled into one. But the terror that Times Square represents goes beyond slow-moving crowds, gawking tourists, and pushy people selling CD’s and posing for photos dressed as Iron Man. The current state of Times Square tells the story of a city that is quickly pricing out its longest-tenured residents.

nyc peep shows
NYC Peep Shows & Private Viewing Booth
Once upon a time, Times Square was considered the Redlight district of New York City. A seedy part of Manhattan overrun by porn shops, peep-shows, pole dancers, and prostitutes. I’m not saying it was safe, or that it was a great place to live or visit. But, there was a beauty to its squalor and a certain level of justice to the lawlessness. Also, as you could imagine it was home to all manner of people who didn’t make very much money. Unfortunately for them though, then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani did not consider them people, he thought they were obstruction progress and undesirable.

nyc mayor  rudy guiliani
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani 

So once New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani stepped in with his “reforms” and police crackdowns the entire area was transformed from skid-row to Disney Land. I am not trying to make the argument that the hookers, pimps, drug-dealers, and hustlers who once inhabited time square are the best people humanity had to offer. But many of the “undesirables,” as his honor so delicately put it, were forced out of their low-income homes right along with them.

nyc times square 1970s
New York City Times Square 1970

So while walking through Times Square can be hellacious all on its own, with tourists stopping in the middle of the street to point out a building as if they are viewing “Starry Night” at MOMA. Or groups obstructing the flow of foot traffic to take group photos in front of a Starbucks. It’s a made a bit more disgusting knowing how many people lost their homes to make way for Bubba Gump Shrimp and The Hard Rock Cafe.

hard rock cafe nyc

Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square

It’s ironic that Times Square gained its name in 1907 once The New York Times moved into the neighborhood. The times is one of the biggest newspapers on the planet and known the world over as champions of free speech, integrity in journalism, and as the real storytellers of our culture. While the area of midtown Manhattan which is named for it may just be the actualization of the death of culture.

New York City Ads Time Square
New York City large advertisements in Time Square

A high tech advertising wasteland which nourishes nothing except our most base consumerist impulses. LED adds that are 50 feet tall walk-up and tell us to buy things we don’t need while neon signs flash from mediocre restaurants that offer foods that can be found for half the price and double the quality at the bevy of eateries in NYC. Yeah, Times Square sucks because it’s always bustling with slow-moving tourists blocking the way when we just want to get to where we are going. But traversing that terrain is so soul-crushing because it represents a fake ideal of our very real culture in New York City.


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