Seven blocks along Broadway in Times Square and Herald Square in New York City have been closed to vehicular traffic to relieve traffic jams, reduce pollution, and allow pedestrians the pleasure of enjoying the city’s center without worrying about being hit by a taxi. West 47th Street to 42nd Street in Times Square and West 35th Street to 33rd Street in Herald Square are the blocks along Broadway where this has taken place.
The new pedestrian promenade took effect on May 24, 2009 as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to reduce Midtown congestion. The remainder of the year will serve as a trial, and the experiment could become permanent if all goes smooth and the city benefits.
The opening of the car-free pedestrian area has eased the Times Square chaos and created breathing room in the usually unbearably crowded Times Square. People who work in the area have a new place to spend their lunch break and New Yorkers who normally avoid Times Square are venturing in to join tourists.
The city has so far provided lawn chairs for lounging and tables and chairs, but not much else, as it is an ongoing development. Musicians and performers have also been hired by the city to attract afternoon crowds, and the Naked Cowboy is out in full force.
While the pedestrian mall undoubtedly improves the congestion of crowded streets and sidewalks, the big question yet to be answered is whether this will help or hurt Times Square and Herald Square businesses.
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