The All-New TKTS Discount Ticket Booth In Times Square
TDF's TKTS half price Broadway ticket stand in Times Square is new and improved
The TKTS Stand - Mixing Art and Function
Bernadette Peters and Mayor Michael Bloomberg tossed confetti in the air at the opening of Times Square's gleaming new TKTS, the Broadway theater district's famed discount tickets booth. "Times Square is known around the globe as the greatest stage for theater, the best place to celebrate the New Year and the crossroads of the world, and these improvements will make the Times Square experience even greater," Mayor Bloomberg said.
The old '70s-era "temporary" TKTS half price Broadway ticket booth in Times Square was demolished in June of 2006 and has now been replaced with a new design that boasts a shiny red staircase as a roof, a modern age public space to rival Rome's Spanish Steps, albeit in 21st century style.
The new TKTS booth proper is topped by a sweeping cascade of 27 ruby-red structural glass steps, rising to a height of 16 feet 1 inch above the 47th Street sidewalk, where a thousand people can congregate every day until 1AM, which is when the Parks Department of New York city closes it (apologies to those hoping to save on hotel rooms).
When you walk to the top of this man made amphitheater in Times Square, you will make a bee-line for the top row, as they don't see the steps as seats but as steps to the top, clearly against the wishes of the designers. When you reach the top, you are rewarded by a panorama of Times Square: the picture-perfect photo opportunity - for tourist and locals alike - a panorama that only office dwellers and double-decker buses have been able to see previously.
Hundreds of tourists and New Yorkers line up daily at the TKTS booth to buy discounted same-day tickets to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. Set on a traffic island at Broadway and Seventh Avenue, the new glass-enclosed booth sits under the glowing red glass staircase. Pedestrian space on the once-crowded island, known as Father Duffy Square, has also has been enlarged by 115 percent.
As far as behavior standards are concerned, Mayor Bloomberg said, visitors will be expected to follow the conduct guidelines common to any city park, as Duffy Square is technically city parkland. Employees of the alliance, which runs the Times Square business improvement district, will clean, maintain, and guard the structure. It may be designated a no-smoking zone.
Discount Broadway Ticket Sales
16 feet directly below the top of the steps, TKTS patrons will find 12 ticket windows (20 percent more than the old Duffy Square booth, which opened in 1973 and closed in 2006). Bowing to consumer pressure, TDF (who owns and operates the TKTS stand) will now allow payment for tickets with credit cards, in addition to cash and traveler’s checks, at the Times Square booth. The waiting lines for tickets are
similar to the old TKTS booth - there are are two lines approaching the booth, so it doesn't matter which one you get on. There are, however, plans for a third line that will be specifically for Broadway plays, as the TKTS booth is trying to encourage sales to them and can provide a shorter wait for these types of shows as well as a dedicated window.
At the official unveiling, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the city picked up $11.5 million of the $19 million cost of the project, but failed to mention the true drama of this construction.
The project, announced in 1999, was bedeviled at almost every turn, most recently by the sudden failure of the Scottish glass manufacturer Haran Glass. In the end, the designers turned to Eckelt Glass of Austria, which fabricated the multi layer panels that make up the structure. The project went over budget six times and threatened to never actually be completed. With a leadership change at the TDF and demolished construction site at a standstill,
Donald Trump, well known for cutting through the bureaucratic construction red tape and developer excuses on New York construction projects, had been asked to turn this project around for the city - much like what he did for the Wollman rink rehab in Central Park when a redevelopment stalled and kept it closed for years. When news of Mr Trump's involvement became known, the city of New York suddenly pumped in cash, and made this project a priority if only just to save a little face.
The Shell Manufacturer
The ticket booth itself is a fiberglass shell fabricated by Merrifield-Roberts of Bristol, R.I., which also makes boat hulls. The overall structure was designed by Nicholas S. Leahy and his colleagues at Perkins Eastman, based on a competition-winning concept by the architects John Choi and Tai Ropiha. William Fellows was the landscape architect. Dewhurst Macfarlane & Partners were the structural engineers.
Duffy Square History
Duffy Square, the north end of the Times Square bowtie, is named for the Rev. Francis P. Duffy, a civic and neighborhood hero in his day, who was chaplain to the 69th New York Infantry regiment during World War I and pastor of the nearby Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church. A bronze likeness, in front of a Celtic cross, stands at the foot of the stairs. The triangular square gained extra space in the redevelopment project by annexing one lane of Broadway and one lane of Seventh Avenue.
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