A long time ago, my favorite thing to do was take the subway to Times Square at any time of the day while undergoing a silent monologue on whether hot dogs from street vendors would sabotage my digestion or not. Although I suspected they’d turn out to be just as delicious as food from the deli near Olive Garden (the one that offers everything you could want including fresh sushi), I never plucked up the courage to try one and I’ve been to Times Square many, many times. It was the first place in New York I got to know, the place I kept returning to most often later and the place that defined my feelings for the new environment in the most crucial moments – my first 3 days in the city that I only spent walking among Times Square’s giant billboards and lights because I was afraid to steer too far away and get lost. Everything depended on those 3 days; if I hadn’t liked Times Square then, I would’ve had a hard time liking anything else as the time went by. Thomas Wolfe wrote that “One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” Times Square empowered me with that feeling when I needed it the most.
I love Times Square because it’s where the world meets. One day I’d love to say to someone, “See you at 5 Ave and 42 Street in _ months at 7PM!” and actually do it; I also wouldn’t be surprised to bump into someone I know there randomly. I was, however, astonished to discover that people who share this fascination are in minority. It’s true that Times Square is always full of obnoxious people who don’t know how to walk and behave, but every time I was there I felt that its amazing energy prevailed over those drawbacks. It was as if even annoying pedestrians and drivers contributed the last remaining atoms of their good spirit to the overall good vibe. Manhattan is where things that influence the rest of the world are going on 24/7. How many world-famous offices are there on Times Square anyway? In a way, Times Square is not only the meeting point of the world but also its artery. Everything you’ve heard about it can only be a cliché until you’re there; then you learn to overlook the souvenir shops and restaurants, absorb the atmosphere and forget what you know about Manhattan, New York and life in general. It’s just you and the energy.