Police Commissioner Bill Bratton won’t de-Bloombergify Times Square after all.
Last month, after a lot of negative attention surrounding body-painted women, aggressive costumed heroes, and their soliciting in the pedestrian piazza the former mayor created between 42nd and 47th, Bratton said, “I’d just prefer to dig the whole damn thing up.” And Mayor de Blasio was open to the idea of erasing one of the more visible legacies of his predecessor.
He appointed a committee to study this urban crisis. Then the backlash came. Letting cars back in is “the opposite of progressive,” according to New York magazine’s architecture critic Justin Davidson. After all, pedestrian safety is a focus of the de Blasio administration, and the plazas were meant to provide a safe place for walkers, cyclists, and tourists. Removing them would also mean ripping up $27 million worth of work.
And now, Bratton has backed down.
“One of the consensuses emerging is to finish what we started … to finish the construction as designed with some additional improvements,” Bratton said in a speech at a breakfast hosted by the Association for a Better New York.
City Councilmember Daniel Garodnick echoed the sentiment saying, “The plazas aren’t the problem. It’s the behaviors that are the problem.”
To that end, a zoning plan is being drafted to separate topless women and character panhandlers from upstanding pedestrians and public events. The official findings will be presented on October 1.