Times Square: 50 millions of visitors each year, 330,000 people a day.
For 110 years, its famous New Year’s Eve has had one million spectators in the square and one billion worldwide each year.
Main meeting point in the heart of Manhattan, you will cross it whether you want to or not. It is considered one of the most overrated places in New York, but it is inevitably charming.
Would you imagine New York without Times Square?
Exasperatingly chaotic, Times Square is also one of the most fascinating places of the city, the most photographed and instagrammed in the world, and appearing in a lot of movies.
A lot of questions come to my mind. Why all these photographs? What is a photograph? Photograph intended as a visual experience that triggers a series of expectations and hypotheses. Through photographs, people state their being there, gaining a place in the real world through the virtual world, almost as if, otherwise, they didn’t really exist.
“Photography” means “writing with the light”, but it also concerns the control of the light itself and of the time. In a certain sense, it is like stealing that time holding the past in a continuous present.
The image is actually available even before been captured in a photo and watched over and over again.Perhaps photography is the means that we use trying to build a world around ourselves.
And so, Times Square becomes the place of meeting, photography becomes the medium and Instagram becomes the virtual place.
An abstract world that, however, talks about something real happening in New York, where different people of different cultures meet, unwittingly giving their contribution to the cultural growth of the city.
New York, center of the world; Times Square, center of New York: a global square where the virtual world meets the real world.
From Times Square’s red stairs, your eyes imagine to dominate the space in front of you and, observing, what was once a simple landscape is now transformed into your personal visual experience.
The desire to discover beauty is what has always pushed people to take photographs; after all, the discovery of ugliness through a photograph was never heard of.
In a world beautified by photography, Times Square is the place where to be, the thrill to be experienced, even if it burns very fast, like a match that never goes out.
That moment you don’t want to miss, because there’s nothing similar in the whole world, because, if you don’t see it with your eyes, you cannot believe it.
Times Square was the first place I visited in New York, I remember: amazement, astonishment, surprise, lights, colors, energy and, at the same time, a familiar place, already known and lived.
Used to the classical beauty of Europe, from the calm and reassuring perception of history, we find ourselves in front of a spectacular artificial beauty and, without perhaps being able to understand it (or precisely for this reason), we are attracted by it.
Could it be the inability to describe it to make us feel scared?
Abstract, technological, alien, inhuman beauty, and, therefore, far from us, but, at the same time, network of connections with the world.
Personally, I have a special relation with this place, crossing it has always been unavoidable and, over time, it has almost become a need.
I often go up those stairs again, I sit in the crowd, wrapped up in this incredible energy. I find myself in front of a huge carpet of people, cultures, dreams and I look at the world passing by, realizing the same thing every single time: if a center of the world exists, here it is.
Times Square: the beating heart of a city that never stops.
When you are in it, all of a sudden, the definition of what you considered “normal” and “ordinary” collapses and your eyes open wide to something different, that you cannot define. Just like Alice who, arriving in Wonderland from a “normal” world, is intrigued but not surprised at all finding herself in front of the Caterpillar smoking a hookah, the late White Rabbit with a pocket watch dressed in a waistcoat, or the bizarre conversations with the Mad Hatter.
Therefore, suddenly, seeing singers and dancers dressed up as Santa Claus and his helper elves to whom – without a moment’s hesitation – the passersby join in dancing, attending your first guitar lesson at five o’clock in the morning given by a player sitting on the stairs, seeing the girls from the Broadway show ‘Chicago’ handing out fliers and Aladdin appearing from around the other corner followed by Disney’s and Marvel’s characters doesn’t seem strange at all, because, after all, you are in Times Square.
Maybe you would have never said that, but you can get caught up with routine even in New York, with all the daily problems to be solved . Captivated by all this, I find myself in Times Square and, looking up, I remember the reason why I am here, I remember that I am here, in New York.
Times Square: a slap in the face, as if to say: “Hey, wake up!! You are in New York!”. That place where no one considers you crazy, because there you can be whatever you want.
And when I find myself complaining about the absurdity of this city, the conversation between the Cheshire Cat and Alice comes to my mind:
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
And you? Are you ready for this extraordinary adventure?
Translated by Diletta Quaranta