Twenty-five years ago, Times Square was the place to be at night.
The massive open air theater district, built a century earlier by the original promoters of the Beatles, was so crowded on the cobblestone streets that the carriages carrying tourists from the Battery were tripping on broken glass.
But just as Times Square was peaking, so was the city as a whole. The city’s population rose rapidly. In 1990, there were just 1.5 million residents in the city. Today, New York has more than 8 million.
That extra population has drawn visitors from out of town, and in large part the visitors have been tourists and corporations building their brand awareness and expanding their headquarters.
These days, there are a few bars and restaurants, and attractions like the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty remain. There are still carriages carrying tourists, but the traffic has slowed to a walk and companies like Apple and AT&T have converted their Times Square headquarters to sleek glass and metal.
But in recent years, tourism in Times Square has experienced a slow decline, dipping from 8.7 million visitors in 2013 to 7.2 million last year.
In the face of declining tourism, city officials and outside management groups, including a live-music company, have teamed up to try to boost the number of people who head to the heart of Times Square.