In the Spring of 1904, the world’s first electrified advertisement appeared on a bank in New York at the corner of Broadway and 46th Street, in what was soon to be called Times Square. In many ways, this event anticipated the beginnings of the modern hyper-commercialized city. Roughly one hundred years later, the pedestrianization of Broadway in Herald and Times Square could be another preview of a new kind of city.
Prior to the banning of cars last summer, Times Square’s reputation as the “crossroads of the world” was ringing inceasingly hollow. What was unique about the intersection of the car-traffic streams of 7th Avenue and Broadway? For that matter, what was compelling or enticing about a Times Square defined by crowded and confined sidewalks, congested roadways, and barely breathable air?
As a result of Broadway’s pedestrian transformation, Times Square is now truly fulfilling its destiny as a global crossroads. Teeming with tourists and New Yorkers alike, it is now one of the world’s great public spaces. More so than in many years, the Square has an electric energy, a festive atmosphere of neon and possibility. Oddly, the ambience is simultaneously both relaxing and exhilarating. Sitting in the middle of Broadway feels almost subversive. And it offers a front row seat to the best show on or off Broadway, the do-it-yourself theatre of New York’s vibrant street life.
That’s the intro to a great piece over on Carbusters. The author is Jeff Prant, “a photographer, writer, urbanist, and 23 year resident of Brooklyn” who “serves on the board of Transportation Alternatives, New York City’s advocates for walking, bicycling, and public transit.” I highly recommend checking out the full article: Walking The New Broadway.
Related Story: 10 Most Walkable Cities in World?
Photo Credit: bernardoh