Tourists don’t get a lot of love from the worker bees who commute to Times Square. The catalogue of complaints is long:
- They travel in packs at a pace slightly faster than the advance of molten magma.
- They stop in the middle of intersections without warning to consult a map.
- They whack you in the face as they open said map.
- Their suitcases play xylophone on your shins.
- They attract an entire striving ecosystem of tour bus operators, comedy show advertisers, and slightly sinister-looking Disney characters.
- Anything and everything becomes photo worthy, from the Metrocard lying on a sewer grate to the mammoth-sized Sean John billboard they try to fit all in one frame, crushing your left pinky toe in the process. In the five minute walk from the subway station to your building, you interrupt at least as many Kodak moments.
- And of course, the most common gripe: They’re always, always looking up.
But this last reason is exactly why I love Times Square and its ever-present tourist throng. They bring an energy and dynamism that go to the heart of what makes this city such an amazing place. Watching them take in the scenery, it’s like having your senses recalibrated to the sights and sounds around you for the first time. As reminders to stay curious and astound-able, tourists are the perfect antidote to the blasé breeziness of hipster culture.
And if you pause, for just a second, at 46th and Broadway, you’ll catch the quiet moments amidst the commotion: the tired shoppers savoring a coffee break, laughing as they review their iPhone pictures; the toddler waving absent-mindedly at the giant LED screen in imitation of everyone around him; the reassuring backward glances between couples as they negotiate the crowd, fingers linked.