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New York’s Times Square really is worth the bucket list

in ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT/DAY OUT/LOCAL by
Times Square – By Jasmine Santalla

The array of lights, sounds, billboards, smells, the buzzing hive of activity, and all the yellow taxis have made Times Square one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. But is it worth the bucket list? In a word: yes.

At the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, in the heart of midtown New York, Times Square teems with tourists, bringing people together into a single tangled, blaring, jumbled, flashing intersection of humanity.

It wasn’t always a bustling entertainment hub. According to the Times Square Alliance, a non-profit organization says it, “Works to improve and promote Times Square,” the now busy intersection was originally named Longacre Square and upon its conception only consisted of a few brownstones. Over the course of time, Longacre Square became a prominent red-light district where pickpockets and brothels were widespread. But eventually big time theater producers bought it up and rehabilitated the area into what the Alliance calls: “A symbol of the American spirit.”

A recent visit on a bone-chilling day leading up to snowstorm Stella found disagreement among visitors about whether Square thought it was worth the hype.

On the one hand there was the Guatemalan visitor who like its familiarity, saying,  “It is just like in the movies! It is amazing!”

A Colombian woman standing nearby agreed in part, saying, “Times Square is cool, but it is too noisy.”

While both the Columbian and Romanian said they would not recommend visiting Times Square, from this perspective of this reporter–a native of South Africa–these ladies are missing the point.

It is precisely the sounds, expense, and bustle of the city that makes it real. New York City is supposed to overload and ignite all your senses. It is supposed to leave your ears ringing, temporarily bankrupt you, and make you think twice before eating off of the floor. It is precisely this irreplicable atmosphere of the intersection that draws people to the heart of the Square.

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