If you’ve taken a stroll down the middle of Times Square lately, you may have noticed that a huge chunk of the street has been ripped up around 42nd street. It looks like this:
It’s a mammoth site. And it’s not pretty.
So what’s happening? Water main break? New subway tunnel? Secret underground passageway for Producers to walk through on Wednesday matinees so we can avoid the tourist mosh pit known as Times Square?
Unfortunately, that’s not it.
What’s happening is part of a multi-year “reconstruction of the Times Square streetscape” that began several years ago.
Here – need a preview of what it’s going to look like when they’re done? Check this out:
You might remember that in my TEDxBroadway talk and on this blog, I predicted that at some point in the next several years, some of Times Square would be grassed over. Well, it looks like I was wrong about the grass, but slowly but surely, TS is becoming a place to walk, not a place to drive. And it’s happening much faster than I thought.
That’s great, right?
I always thought so . . . the more and more Times Square becomes a magnet for tourists (instead of the scary place it was in the 70s-early 90s), the better for the theaters, right? More people walking through the theater district should be putting more butts in seats.
But then I remember how our attendance numbers keep dropping. Even when Times Square is becoming more tourist friendly.
And then I wondered . . .
Times Square has a become such a destination . . . such a free destination. Could we (gulp) . . . could we actually be losing some people that are getting a pretty good show sitting on those red steps and watching The Naked Cowboy and the creepy Elmo and that guy that will let you take a picture with his cobra? (Insert “that’s what she said” joke here.)
Have we done so much to draw people in to the Square, that they have no reason to leave it? Again, especially when it’s freeeeeeee?
Gosh, I hope not, because I love the London-like Square that the city is building. But it should be driving more people to the theater, not less.
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