Urban Fold

The Too-Successful Public Space

This article form The New York Times looks at the success of Times Square and talks with real estate experts about whether this success is really such a good thing.

"As a resident of the area, Robert L. Sammons, who lives on 42nd Street between Ninth and 10th Avenues, might be expected to stew about this sea of humanity. But he also happens to work in the field of commercial real estate in a position of some visibility, and in this capacity he raises a question about the health of Times Square: Could it become a victim of its own success?"

"A poll conducted by a group of local businesses, called the Times Square Alliance, found that of 2,350 Times Square workers who were asked for the top reasons they would consider working elsewhere, 68 percent cited congestion."

"But it is rare for those in the real estate industry to question the success of the area, which is generally defined as the blocks along Broadway, Seventh and Eighth Avenues from 42nd to 48th Streets. About six million square feet of commercial space was added to Times Square from 1996 to 2003; the total is about 32.7 million square feet. About 13.7 million more square feet is projected to be developed by 2020."

Full Story: A Place So Crowded, Nobody Goes There Anymore



Too Successful Public Space

One of the curious characteristics of success is its positive feedback - success draws greater success until it overwhelms itself. The obvious response is not to kill the first success, but to create competing successes in other locations, thereby spreading the wealth. Yet our public policies seldom truly take this into account - or else they tend to create feeble imitations of the successful model instead of investing in truly creative responses.
J. David Stein

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