Times Square Isn’t All Bad

Times Square Isn’t All Bad

spent much of the past few years rediscovering the city of
New York. Popular neighbourhoods, iconic shops and tourist spots,
parks and public spaces-on most days of the week, I’m out there,
strapped with lenses, limning the landscape through my camera.

After living here for 10 years, I thought I had chosen my
favourite neighbourhoods, typically those that were farthest off
the beaten path. And there were also neighbourhoods that I avoided
like the plague-Times Square, located in the Theater District, has
always been my least favourite area of all. Thousands of tourists
walking at a glacial pace, skyscrapers covered with spasmodic
blinking ads, street vendors selling New York City paraphernalia
marked up a thousand fold, and traffic, always so much traffic. It
seemed to condense all of the worst aspects of New York City in one
small square radius.

My knee-jerk perspectives on neighbourhoods began to change,
though, after spending a lot of time in each place. I began to see
things in a more balanced light. I became charmed by the guileless
wonder of people looking up at Times Square, calmed by the peaceful
haven that is Battery Park City on a weekday morning, inspired by
the rich craft community in Brooklyn’s Boerum Hill. I suddenly came
to know more of Harlem’s verdant parks and block parties, the
evolution of far west Chelsea, and of all those rooftop bars and
third-floor restaurants tucked away in Murray Hill and the Garment
District. It became difficult to have the same singular emotional
verdict for any neighbourhood anymore; what resulted was a mix of
new perceptions, both positive and negative, objective and

I’ve started to corral some of my favourite outtakes and
personal images together and will be sharing many little slices of
life from each NYC neighbourhood through photo diaries here on
SUITCASE Magazine.

As the city’s mascot neighbourhood, Times Square seems like a
good place to start. Beloved by tourists and reviled by NYC
natives, Times Square is both the antithesis and embodiment of the
city. With its rows of corporate stores, prepackaged entertainment
and an apparent lack of authenticity, I was not looking forward to
taking photographs there. But I was surprised by what I found. If
you look beyond the retail and wait for the crowds to part, there
really is a lot to see: monks and businessmen waiting together at
stoplights; street performers, who are indefatigable through summer
heat and rain; moments of synchronicity when the movement of the
masses seems coordinated and perfectly balanced.

Despite the fact that most people there are trying to sell you
something, the place is rife with interesting stories. Those Disney
characters beckoning you for photographs? They are all
self-employed, out there in their own handmade costumes. The woman
trying to capture your attention to sell you Broadway show tickets
may be a struggling dancer, living in a hallway in south Brooklyn
and that slick corporate guy in a dark suit may be from a small
town in the Midwest, visiting for interviews, searching for a new

It’s no wonder that people walk so slowly-there’s a lot going on
in this neighbourhood, some things surprising, some sad, and a lot


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