Talking about centre / periphery relations, Times Square is probably the most central space in the world. It is at the centre of New York City, it is at the centre of the global spectacular entertainment industry, at the centre of the american economy and its cultural domination over the world. Times Square is a main crossroad in a world of global flows, the paradigm for the new public space in the cinematic city age: the space of exposure.
Times Square is one of the most densely crossed sites in the world, although significantly lacking of inhabitants. Here the form of the urban space epitomizes the shift from a conception of public space as a place for staying, meeting and joining, to one of a site of flowing and symbolic consumption. Technically speaking, despite the name this is even not a real square: it is just an X where the main arteries of the city cross and the hugest numbers of passers-by are pushed in the urban rhythm, exposed to the highest numbers of commodified images. Overlapped, the continuous oracle of the stock-market shares rolling over the Reuter’s Building represents the actual breath of the country.
Times Square has always embodied “America” (the US – obviously), with its spirit of pioneerism, its sense of competitiveness, its brilliantly set-up marketing façade. The shiny electrical appearance of Times Square has honestly represented the dominant powers ruling the country, and the world: media, tech corporations, entertainment industries, financial players. Consequently, since 9/11 the new dominant mantra that Times Square shows as the values at its very core is: security, patriotism, war on terror.