Making Times Square likeable to New Yorkers

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It's fair to say native New Yorkers tend to stay away from Times Square. Packed sidewalks, the cast of characters and general sensory overload have made it an "only if you have to" destination.

But just steps away in Bryant Park, it is a different story. Bocce courts, the fountain and lush greenery have made it a favorite of locals and travelers alike.

But not long ago Bryant Park was a different place. Drug dealers and seedy characters called the park home. It even had the unfortunate nickname of the world's longest urinal.

That's where Dan Biederman comes in. He is the cofounder of the Bryant Park Corporation. He says that in 1979 the park had over 500 felonies, most of which were brutal.

As explained by John Tierney in the latest issue of City Journal, some are hoping the turnaround of Bryant Park could loosely be a model to make Times Square a place New Yorkers would actually like to spend their time. 

Biederman says one of the main problems in times square are sidewalks crammed with too many vendors and performers, coupled with an overcomplicated set of rules making it increasingly difficult for officials to keep order.

One block west, Bryant Park's world-famous neighbor Times Square is, shall we say, grittier than the smaller green oasis.

Times Square Alliance creative director Sherry Dobbin says that's okay because the two areas serve different purposes. She says people come to Times Square to be excited and see the future and experience the energy of the city.

And part of the job is making Times Square vibrant for both New Yorkers and tourists. She says the key is authenticity.