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Times Square: Not Just for Tourists Anymore

It's unlikely to surprise anyone to learn that Times Square is an invaluable asset to New York City's economy, but as Patrick McGeehan points out, it has as much to do with offices as with hotels and entertainment.
March 23, 2012, 11am PDT | Ryan Lue
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A poster child of tourism as an economic engine, Times Square has drawn countless visitors to New York City for many decades. A study released this week set out to determine just how much it contributes: "one-tenth of all of the jobs in the city and $1 of every $9 of economic activity," McGeehan reports. "That amounts to $110 billion in annual economic activity – about equal to the output of Portland, Oregon," all in "an area that occupies less than 1 percent of [New York City's] land."

Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, which commissioned the report, attributes the success of the area to its preponderance of office space – 29 million square feet of it – and the 170,000-odd people that work there. "What's significant about Times Square is that it has become more diversified," said Tompkins. "Certainly we've become a major commercial office district... Before, we were an entertainment and hotel district."

Economist Rosemary Scanlon is quick to point out that tourism still plays a major role, enabling redevelopment nearby. Just west of Times Square, "luxury apartment towers" have sprung up "in places where no market for them previously existed," McGeehan writes.

"In the same way that we were a postcard for why not to come to New York City 20 or maybe 30 years ago," said Tompkins, "we are a powerful advertisement for how appealing the city is now."

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Published on Monday, March 19, 2012 in New York Times - City Room Blog
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