As Times Square reopens, so does the rest of New York
Sign up for our PoliticsNY newsletter for the latest coverage and to stay informed about the 2021 elections in your district and in New York
Times Square occupies only 0.1% of New York’s land mass, but in a normal year the restaurants, shops and theaters of the “Crossroads of the World” generate tens of billions of dollars for the city’s economy. .
But nothing has been normal in Times Square for over a year since COVID-19 officially arrived in New York City in March 2020. Within weeks, the hustle and bustle of the region has been replaced by the sound of silence. – streets empty of pedestrian and automobile traffic. , closed businesses and dark Broadway theaters.
As New York City is finally reopening in earnest with declining COVID-19 cases and more people vaccinated, Times Square is already on the verge of a rebirth. More than 175 businesses have reopened, joining 18 new physical stores that have launched operations against the tide of the global pandemic, according to the Times Square Alliance, the community’s trade organization.
Tom Harris, interim president and chief operating officer of the Times Square Alliance, noted that the region sees about 138,000 pedestrians crossing each day – 103,000 more than the record level of 33,000 daily pedestrians at the height of the pandemic in the spring. from 2020.
“However, with the ongoing rollout of vaccination, the easing of capacity restrictions and the onset of warm weather a year after living with the pandemic, we continue to see our vibrant neighborhood come to life,” Harris said. “We look forward to continuing to welcome New Yorkers and visitors back to Times Square, the center of New York’s energy and vibrancy.”
It remains to be seen how long it will take Times Square to return to pre-pandemic levels of economic activity. Before COVID-19 hit, according to the Times Square Alliance, the region accounted for 7% of the city’s jobs and 15% of its economic input – including $ 58 billion in direct economic output and $ 47 billion in economic output indirect.
City and state governments also reap incredible revenues from Times Square – to the tune of $ 2.5 billion in New York City taxes and $ 2.3 billion in state taxes.
The rebirth of Broadway characters will be key to Times Square’s next act. The Great White Way has been bleak since capacity restrictions forced theaters to close in March 2020; The Broadway League announced in October that theaters would remain closed until the end of May 2021.
With Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing the New York regional reopening starting May 17, it’s only a matter of time before Broadway and Times Square kick into high gear. The governor has said it is up to Broadway productions to know when they resume, but the reopening plan paves the way for the Theater District to raise the curtain again.
Hotels will also be the key to Times Square’s economic recovery. The Times Square Alliance reports that a number of large hotels have reopened to guests, including AKA Times Square, OYO Hotel Times Square, RIU Plaza New York Times Square, Westin New York, W New York and Time Hotel.
Large retailers such as H&M and Forever 21 are also opening their doors, the alliance noted, and attractions such as Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Times Square and Times Square by Madame Tussaud also welcome returning visitors.