“In one October afternoon a couple of years ago, between 3 and 7 p.m. we counted 4000 people walking literally in the street, in traffic lanes, because the sidewalks were too crowded. It is clearly a safety issue as well as a quality-of-life issue”, Tim Tompkins, the president of the Times Square Alliance business district [source: NY Times].
The conflict between pedestrians and automobiles on crowded New York streets continue. But as CoolTown Studios notes, pedestrians are clearly favored over automobiles and the day is not far when the area around Times Square might be permanently closed for traffic and might just be one large pedestrian zone; the central area acting as New York ‘public square’. Marketing campaigns in glittering neon signs on Times Square’s prime property strangely do not defile the urbanscape but in a weird way, that blatant display of commercialism actually defines it. Nowhere else, with the exception of Las Vegas, does that hold true.
Marketers might be more likely to use that space for advertising if they have the attention of the consumer for a longer time i.e. when they are walking instead of just whizzing by in cars. The area around Times Square is almost always occupied with awe-stuck tourists who are the only ones standing around gaping at the advertisements and drinking in the famed NYC urbanscape as New Yorkers rush by going about their business. The fact that the busiest subway station (42nd Street) lies directly beneath Times Square also adds to the melee of people walking in and out of the area. It makes sense both urban design-wise and business-wise for Manhattan to have its first pedestrian-only street.