times square lawn chairs

posted in: new york 0

last week, I decided to check out the new pedestrian area of times square. it’s a public space experiment running until the end of the year, when the city decides whether or not to make the change permanent.

I had expected the entire area to be completely pedestrian, but traffic is still allowed to go cross-town: only Broadway is closed off, from 42nd to 47th street. so as I walked northward I still had to be aware of traffic crossings, but I could walk on the street instead of being confined to the sidewalk. I came through on a weekday, so things were fairly quiet–though there was a nice little brass band playing by the tkts area. all this was fine, but what I found most curious were these kitschy plastic lawn chairs spread out all over the road: on one block they were green, on the next magenta, and then blue…

times-sq chairs

these are just cheap summer chairs you can get at any walmart, so I wasn’t sure if they were put there by the city–but according to an article by the new york times today, yes indeed, they are.

The scene-stealing star of the city’s newly opened, $1.5 million pedestrian plaza project may be its fleet of folding lawn chairs, humble refugees from the Ace Hardware catalog that have colonized the Broadway pavement. […] Average purchase price: about $15 apiece, or 0.001 percent of the project’s total budget.

These bright-coloured lawn chairs aren’t staying forever, though; they are only meant as a temporary solution to the delay in permanent furniture due to arrive in August. Some people love them, others hate it–at any rate, their tackiness matches the whole of times square, no?

this is times square shortly before the makeover (taken from the novotel):

and here is a video from nytimes of times square now (including ecstatic praise from pedestrians and complaints from taxi drivers).