Mayor de Blasio first started pushing to corral the costumed characters and topless performers in Times Square last August, and now almost a year later work has begun on a reconfiguration of the area, reports the Daily News. A preliminary map that divided the plazas into three zones was released in September, but a new, final version was issued on Wednesday. Called “TSq Plaza Rules Cheat Sheet,” it splits the tourist mecca into Chill Zones (places to “sit, nosh, meditate, take in the sites”), De$ignated Activity Zones (“commercial activities, street entertainment, posing for photos, vendors of expressive matter… in exchange for compensation, donation, or tips”), and Express Lanes (“pedestrian through lanes, NYC style”). After the City Council passed legislation eight weeks ago that gave the Department of Transportation the power to relocate the performers and ticket sellers, workers began painting the colored lines to delineate the zones on Wednesday night.
The Times Square Alliance, a business-interest group, backed the legislation after first proposing a rezoning of the area last summer after concerns arose about the “aggressive” nature of the performers. A recent survey showed that 61 percent of Times Square employees “reported experiencing a negative encounter with a costumed character or commercial solicitor,” and 51 percent said this made them feel unsafe. Just a few months ago, a young woman was punched in the eye when she refused to tip a man offering free hugs. Although many of the performers feel the rezoning is unjust, claiming it violates their freedom of speech and right to earn a living, the zones will go into effect later this month.
Neighborhoods : Times Square