Times Square celebrates spring opening of new pedestrian plazas

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Times Square celebrates spring opening of new pedestrian plazas
Rob Nelson has the latest

TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Times Square is celebrating the official spring opening of its pedestrian-friendly plazas.

The 110,000 square foot car-free zones are located on Broadway between 43rd and 44th Street.

The city unveiled the completion of a $55 million project, a transformation that began eight years ago and dramatically changes the look and feel of the 'Crossroads of the World'.

New Year's may be months away, but confetti did indeed rain down on Times Square Wednesday.

"We really want Times Square to be a hub that captures and celebrates our culture in every sense of that word," said Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins.

Officials celebrated the opening of new pedestrian plazas along a five-block stretch of roadway, a project completed back in December but worth marking again now since the weather is slowly turning warmer.

"Our work was to create a sense of maturity into Times Square, to show that it could be a place of depth and interaction and not just a place for excitement or distraction," said architect Craig Dykers.

The work began back in 2009, and now the plazas and extended sidewalks add 110,000 square feet of new pedestrian space to the city's most iconic neighborhood.

New Yorkers and tourists alike can enjoy upgraded furniture along the plazas, in addition to long granite benches.

Officials also plan to use the new space to showcase public art, live performances, retail and food.

Tiny reflectors embedded in the sidewalk have been installed to help showcase all of the square's trademark lights.

"This is not the Times Square of my youth, it is not even the Times Square of ten years ago. This is a Times Square that is taking public space to the next level," said City Councilman Dan Garodnick.

The upgrade coincides with changes the city approved last year, designating only certain areas of Times Square open to commercial activity, like those costumed characters and topless performers.

It is all an effort to elevate the very idea of public space in the nation's biggest city.