What a pleasure! How enjoyable!
I’m not just referring to the fun of travelling again … my first trip away from BC since March 2020 … but what it was like to spend time again in New York City … including Times Square.
The Square, and the area around it, has changed.
I have visited New York many times over the past 60 years … and remember the old days, when sleazy Adult stores/theatres, the “Last Days of Sale!” ripoff retail outlets, the bums, the crazies the thieves, and dirty streets and sidewalks made the Times Square area somewhat foreboding.
And then there were the street preachers (my favorite was Rosie!) who, protected by the First Amendment and their displaying the American flag, harangued the passing crowds about the trials and tribulations awaiting us in Hell if we did not immediately repent.
That’s changed … a people-friendly place now: with a large open plaza area, dozens of tables and chairs, even a set of bleachers … perfect for enjoying a snack, a picnic lunch, people watching … and, when I visited, some pretty good gymnastic street performers put on their own Broadway show.
There are even bike lanes, cars and huge numbers of pedestrians peacefully co-existing side by side.
All of it protected by the visible presence of New York police and Times Square Security officers … and a clean-up crew, who keep the area from 42nd Street to 47th Street spic and span.
What a wonderful place Times Square is now: close to my hotel, it became a great outdoor venue to relax, have a coffee/snack and enjoy the sights/sounds of New York.
And exposing how putrid Vancouver’s downtown Granville Street has become … the rot here now spreading like a cancer up Davie and Robson Streets too!
What a contrast!
Vancouver’s core is like a giant pot filled with human beings, most of them oblivious to the truth that they, their neighbourhoods and their businesses, are slowly being poached to death by chefs at City Hall who have increasingly turned up the heat over time, killing them off.
If the media ever showed a comprehensive map outlining all the homeless housing, druggie assistance centers, social agencies for troubled youth, mental health services sites the City, aided and abetted by the NDP provincial government, have DELIBERATELY piled into and around Granville Street … right up to Burrard, the “people” would be appalled!!
Civic ‘governance” in Vancouver has become all about serving and servicing the down-and-outers … and to hell with the working middle class, the taxpayers, tourists and the businesses who pay for it all.
Vancouver’s downtown core has become a disgrace … often unsafe now during the day as well as at night.
Since I moved to Vancouver 50 years ago, I have come to know many, many people who live and/or work in the West End, Yaletown, Kitsilano, Fairview Slopes, Strathcona, Chinatown.
NOT ONE of them EVER shops or dines downtown anymore.
It’s too filthy, littered with discarded needles, drugged up addicts, aggressive panhandlers, and just plain crazies … crowded into an area that has become just an extension of Hastings/Main.
I sounded the alarm about this in 2016: http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/granville-street-turning-into-another-downtown-eastside/.
Since then, it has gotten WORSE!
Today, Davie Street and Robson are also in decline, with smashed/boarded up windows becoming quite common, aggressive panhandlers and violent shoplifters intimidating the local businesses and neighbourhood residents. Many seniors are already afraid to go out, stroll and shop the commercial avenues … let alone stop to relax on a bench!
The decline is so widespread now, it will take a lot more than increased police patrols to save the area.
Yet, most of the media have remained oblivious (waiting for a press release?) or have failed to maintain sustained coverage that the destruction of Vancouver’s downtown deserves and is now so visible.
And it’s rare to see any reporters putting the tough questions about the mess to the radical lefties now in charge at City Hall whose policies and actions created and have encouraged the decline.
How sad that the politicians, planners and bureaucrats … have been able to get away with that … happily FUNDED by the NDP government in Victoria.
And by the way, it’s not that New York City has just left its homeless out in the cold.
Under its own moderate left-leaning “progressive” Mayor Bill De Blasio, homelessness assistance and spending has more than doubled, from $1.2 Billion U.S. in 2014 to $3.5 Billion U.S. in 2020.
None of this is to suggest social problems increasingly burdening our society should not be dealt with … or doing even more.
But unlike Vancouver, civic leaders in New York City haven’t been so stupid or ideologically blinded to the point of buying up hotels right in the heart of the downtown, moving hundreds of homeless into them and opening up a plethora of drug, mental and social service agencies right there to cater to them.
And Vancouver’s “leaders” wonder why it has become uncomfortable at best, even dangerous far too often, to park, visit, shop, dine on Granville … or anywhere near it?
Vancouver’s downtown has been destroyed by the incompetence and negligence of City Hall.
New York City puts Vancouver to SHAME.
What an enjoyable place their downtown has become to visit!
And how about this: I was not only able to enjoy coffee and a snack at a table in Times Square, taking in the neon signs, the liveliness, the passing parade … I was even able to sit there and enjoy smoking my pipe!
Without any anti-smoking fascists hosing me down.
So nice, relaxing in Times Square became a regular part of my morning, evening coffee/snack routine each day of my visit.
I luv New York!
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