Georgia Worrell, New York Post, August 26, 2023
Times Square is looking a lot like its bad old self, with vagrants, boozy migrants, junkies, and scofflaws making the Crossroads of the World look more like the third world, infuriating those who played an important role in its cleanup.
On three separate days over the past week, The Post saw junkies brazenly smoking crack pipes on West 43rd Street, drug dealers peddling their wares within eyeshot of cops, hobos conked out wherever they can find a spot, and scores of aimless migrants loitering the day away.
“A lot of people are worried about [Times Square] collapsing. And unless they start getting it together for a rebuild, it might actually collapse,” said William Bratton, the NYPD commissioner who helped then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani clean up the area in the 1990s.
“We had a lot more to work with than the current commissioner and the mayor have in 2023,” Bratton added. “There was a lot more of a criminal justice system back then. The courts, district attorneys, and the police were pretty much united about doing something about crime in Times Square. So you had a collaboration that is not in place today.”
By contrast, “we [now] have a number of district attorneys not wanting to deal with a lot of … the so-called ‘broken windows’,” signs of social disorganization and lead to crime, he explained — referring to the far-left, soft-on-crime Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who critics say is pushing “reforms” which favor criminals instead of victims.
New Yorkers and tourists alike said they were mortified the city’s brand has turned into something out of “Taxi Driver.”
“It’s so bad around here. There are homeless and crazy [people] and [they’re] doing drugs and everything,” said Sidek Mohammad, 55, who has sold nuts at a kiosk on the corner of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue for 16 years.
In the last two years, major crime has rocketed 50% in the NYPD’s Midtown South precinct – which encompasses Times Square, Grand Central Terminal, Madison Square Garden, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal – and is up 28% compared to 13 years ago, according to NYPD data.
Adding to the seedy new tableau are the thousands of migrants being housed by the city in three nearby hotels-turned-shelters – who constantly loiter and cause issues, according to a doorman at the New Amsterdam Theater on West 42nd Street.
“All of the drinking and delinquency out here, all of these immigrants, they’re changing things. Their trash is everywhere,” he griped.
The Candler Building on West 42nd Street, the Row Hotel on Eighth Avenue, and Hotel Mela on West 44th Street are all now being used to house migrants as they flood into the city.
The nonprofit responsible for the upkeep and improvement of Times Square recently pushed for the managers of the nearby migrant shelters to increase their outdoor security patrols — and to take out their own trash.