New York

Rediscovering New York: Times Square – The Good, The Bad and The Ewww

The Revlon

The Revlon “Loveison” jumbotron is a favorite attraction

For most New Yorkers, Times Square is avoided at all costs. It’s loud, chaotic, packed to the gills, and between the lights and the billboards, nearly seizure inducing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hater. I think that’s true for anyone living in a city with a big tourist attraction, the locals rarely visit.

For travelers, it’s too iconic to ignore, and once inside, it’s like a car crash, you can’t look away. It’s an absolute must for photography lovers, there’s always something going on that will inspire a few pictures or ten.

Last weekend, I decided to venture back into the fray and shoot for a few hours to practice my black and white photography.  The night was oppressively hot but the action was in high gear. I was thinking about a friend from Australia who’s coming into town next month and has Times Square high on her “must-see” list. It occurred to me—as I did my best to weave through the dense crowd without getting stepped on—that a brief primer might be in order for those who’ve never been.

And voilà! I bring you – The Good, The Bad and the “Eww” of Times Square.

You might have seen these ladies in the news. I refer to as the topless patriots. These fresh on the scene

You might have seen these ladies in the news. I refer to them as the topless patriots. These fresh on the scene “characters” are virtually naked with their breasts obscured by body paint depicting the American Flag. This girl’s teeny skirt was one of the more ensembles of the bunch. Most of the girls wore thongs. Our Mayor De Blasio is NOT  happy.

The Good

People watching: it’s probably one of the best places in the world to immerse yourself in the raucous, whimsical, crazy drama that is life. Over the years I’ve witnessed proposals, marriages, break ups, spectacular toddler meltdowns, knock-down-drag-out family fights, amazing street performances and artists, and a variety of star-studded events. (I should point out that my office was in Times Square for nearly seven years). You never know what you’ll find and you’ll never be bored. And, of course, there’s New Year’s Eve, which I  only watch on TV because it’s just too cold, but obviously, a bazillion other people do not agree with me.

  • Tip: If you’d rather watch all the action than stroll through it, there are two great places to kick back. 1. At Broadway between 42nd and 43rd streets, you’ll find small tables and chairs at the ready. 2. On Duffy Square, at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue above the TKTS booth, are ruby-red, glass steps that can fit, according to the New York Times, up to 1300 people at a time.
A newly married couple celebrates with a few pictures on the steps in Duffy Square

A newly married couple celebrates with a few pictures on the steps in Duffy Square

A unique world view: People call the United States a melting pot and in the few blocks that make up Times Square it couldn’t be any more true. Russian, French, Spanish, Portugese and Chinese, were just a few of the languages I overheard during a recent 10 minute walk through what is always an incredibly diverse and interesting crowd.

Broadway at your fingertips: At the TKTS booth in Duffy Square, you’ll score big discounts on day-of-show tickets for theater performances and other events.

  • Tip: Give yourself plenty of time to wait in line.
Selfies, selfies and more selfies

Selfies, selfies and more selfies

You’ll never go hungry: From street vendors to gourmet food trucks and restaurants galore, you’ll have no problem satisfying even the most exotic craving. Restaurant Row, on 49th between Broadway and Ninth Avenue, offers an array of global cuisines perfect for pre-theater dining. A few of my favorite Time Square haunts include Osteria Al Doge, Brooklyn Diner, Orso, and for those looking for a nice bar (though pricey) and great American cuisine, try The Lamb’s Club.

Kids love it: There’s no doubt your kids will be dazzled by all the action, lights and activity. Stores like Disney, Hershey’s Chocolate World and Toys R Us, the latter with an indoor Ferris wheel, will also delight. If they love Elmo, Hello Kitty, Superman and the like—and really, what child doesn’t?  You’ll find a bevy of costumed characters milling about who’ll jump at the chance to take pictures with your little darlings. (See also “The Bad.”)

These Lady Liberties had an array of props for picture-takers to play with

These Lady Liberties had an array of props for picture-takers to play with. These little ladies couldn’t get enough.

Big screen action: Revlon’s “Loveison” (Love Is On) jumbotron on the corner of 43rd and Broadway is a major attraction. Crowds gather to wave and holler at the camera excited to see themselves on the big screen. It’s hysterical to watch.

Camera friendly: At night, areas in Times Square are so bright you don’t need a tripod, which is perfect because without a permit you can’t use one anyway.

Every two years, Times Square celebrates the famous post World War II image called The Kiss with a giant statue. On this night, couples couldn't resist creating their own passionate statement.

Every two years, Times Square celebrates the famous post World War II image called The Kiss with a giant statue. On this night, couples couldn’t resist creating their own passionate statement.

The Bad

There are a lot of people. Seriously. A lot: In good weather the crowds can be overwhelming. Keep small children close. With so much going on it’s easy to become separated. (Tip: There’s an NYPD sub station next to the subway at Broadway and Seventh Avenue. If you need help, they’re close by )

What personal space?: There is little respect for personal space in Times Square, you will inevitably get bumped or shoved. Not in a dangerous fashion necessarily, more in an I’m-so-mesmerized-by-Times-Square-I’m-not-looking-where-I-am-going, kind of way. If you have mobility issues you might want to stay in one of the seating areas noted above.

How amazing is this? He whipped that up in about 15 minutes.

How amazing is this? He whipped that up in about 15 minutes.

Selfie Central: Since it’s not a personal fancy of mine I’m somewhat biased on the subject of selfies. If you’re one of the vast number of people who love it, Time Square will be your Valhalla. You’ll join hundreds of people—often at the same time— vying for the perfect shot. Tip: Be careful not to get beheaded by someone’s selfie stick.

Cranky Elmos: Some of the people who dress up like Elmo and other fantasy characters throw their arms around your shoulders as if you’re a long-lost friend, and offer to take a picture with you. Beware, they expect you to pay for the pleasure, and if you take a photo without paying them they can get testy. Signs throughout Times Square clearly state that tipping street performers is at your discretion, so don’t let them tell you otherwise. (On the flip side: if you ask Hello Kitty to pose with your family, a tip is a nice gesture.)

 The Eww

Every two years, Times Square celebrates the famous post World War II image called The Kiss with a giant statue. On this night, couples couldn't resist creating their own passionate statement.

I think this is pretty self-explanatory…

 

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17 replies »

  1. Hahha couldn’t stop laughing at the “eww”. Great black and white compositioning! New York is definitely a bit too much for me at times but I can appreciate it, you definitely did a good job of summing up its good and bad sides.

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    • I mean he totally creeped me out. I should have taken video of the dance he does for dollars but it was just to repulsive. I was stunned and had to run. It was like being next to a life size Chucky doll. Eww… Thank you so much for the kind words..It was a difficult day to shoot. The chaos was pretty high.

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  2. Your people watching photos are fabulous. Urban anthropology. My kids love Times Square. For them it is all about people in crazy costumes, flashy lights to attract their magpie eyes, kid-friendly shops and fun (and they were fans of the “topless patriots”). I, however, find crowds very difficult. It puts me on edge. And I don’t like the noise. I accept that Times Square is a must see on any trip to NYC, however. My sons are obsessed with the red steps because they feature in the Marvel Lego video game. The first time I took them, they were actually able to navigate from there around the surrounding streets because of making their little lego people wander around the same environment.

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  3. Great summary of Times Square, Susan. I always like to pass through there at night, to see what new bizarre-ness has been been added to the mix. I must say, however, I hope I don’t encounter Mr. Ewww on my next visit.

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  4. Once again thanks for the pictures…I have been one of those taking the selfies in front of special things…great memories…spring of 2014, I came in contact with “The Indian”…he was such a hoot…I asked him if I could take his picture and of course he said sure but don’t you want to be in it ? I gave my phone to a friend who just kept shooting…well…he was pretty funny and putting on a good show for everyone and I kind of went along with him until I got laughing so hard, I couldn’t stand up straight…when he was done, he high 5ed me and said “Thanks for being such a good sport” It was awesome and I have had a lot of laughs over the pictures…
    You are so right…lots of hustle and bustle…got to see the tree lighting in 2013 also…took my breath away and I was so impressed with the how the police handled the crowds…it was so much fun…..
    LOve all your pictures and stories 🙂🙂🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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