The Real Deal New York

Remembering when cars ruled Times Square: VIDEO

You only have to go back to 2006 to see what the pedestrian plaza did for Times Square

August 23, 2015 12:00PM

Cars in Times Square, the pedestrian plaza and Bill de Blasio

Cars in Times Square, the pedestrian plaza and Bill de Blasio

Seemingly no one is onboard with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to rip up Times Square’s pedestrian plaza to spare prudish tourists from the scourge of topless women and panhandling cartoon characters.

Last week, the mayor said: “a lot of people are very uncomfortable with” the aggressive panhandling that’s come to characterize the plaza. “On a common sense level this is not appropriate in the middle of a public square.”

He went to suggest that destroying them might be a legitimate solution.

So maybe now is the perfect time to pause and remember what Time Square was like just a few years ago.

6sqft has dug up a video filmed back in 2006 by Streetsblog publisher Mark Gorton. In it, Gorton talks with Danish architect and urban design consultant Jan Gehl in the center of Times Square to ask him how he would improve the area.

Between deafening honks, Gehl says: “It would be completely idiotic to chase people away by giving them very poor conditions. If we are to talk about the conditions for pedestrians here, it’s really lousy … the balance is all wrong and something ought to be done to celebrate this unique place, so that more people, in a dignified way, can enjoy it.”

It doesn’t seem like you need to be an expert to come to that conclusion.

[6sqft]Christopher Cameron