It ain’t grass yet, but it’s close enough.

Broadway ConstructionIf 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:

Broadway Times Square
Awesome, right?  I mean just look at that giant river of sidewalk that’s going to be there for all of us to stroll through.

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.

Hmmmm.

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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Comments
  • George says:

    Yes, but let’s remember… NYC of the 70s/80s wasn’t “planned” the city ran out of money… and we are gonna see that happen again within the next five years (End of QEs will dry up the Wall Street “money laundering” that it’s doing for the Federal government… several brokerage firms are planning relocation out of the Northeast… and the political climate in the city is back to the steal from the rich and give to the poor… which will convince rich people to – leave – long before they have their pockets picked… add the end of stop-and-frisk and one can expect crime to go right back to the Chicago Stds that make wide open pubicle spaces… un-policable.

    The MAJOR reason Times Square remains Theatre’s Ground Center is because people can either visit here and can afford to spend INSANE amounts on the Hotel… or locals can drive or take a bus in – see a play – and get the heck out… easily… and people are still willing to risk enormous capital on the slight prospect that a show is going to re-coup because that “crowd” continues to buy $100 tickets…

    Another decade chanllenge for the Fabulous Invalid!

    g

  • Attendance is down, so….Let’s blame the Naked Cowboy! We can see him in his skivvies for free, why see a Broadway show?

    If Broadway is actually competing with buskers and panhandlers, and is LOSING,….what the hell are we trying to do here anyway?

    Let’s see what would happen if we just focus on producing shows that people want to see, with tickets that can be purchased without the need to take out a home equity mortgage. It may just be as simple as that.

  • Norma Kramer says:

    Unfortunately alot of the crowd is made up of people pushing strollers. These people are not likely to be theatre goers, more like customers of Toys R Us and a big nuisance to theatre goers who are trying to get through the hoards to get to a theatre !

  • Jonathan Mann says:

    The industry needs to provide more visibility and engaging information about Broadway theater history, the remarkable landmark theater buildings themselves, current shows and their relationship to past smash productions and something like a trail to each theater amidst the mayhem and bizarre, chaotic level of distraction from the heart and soul of times square — broadway theater !

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