New York’s Times Square: Is the Big Apple celebrating too much?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Giant firework displays are always seen at Times Square on New Year’s Eve

To say that 2017 was a milestone year for New York City’s Times Square is like saying Donald Trump’s victory at the White House has been an absolute mess.

A blighted chunk of the sky was filled with floating glass and smoke as pyrotechnics exploded for the first time in the square’s 100-year history.

The famous New Year’s Eve landmark has become the gathering point for wild-eyed young revelers in the Big Apple and thousands of foreign tourists.

But the programme has proved controversial with some hospitalisations and one woman having to be airlifted to a hospital after falling down stairs and smashing her hip.

Barring a woman being rushed to hospital in a military Humvee on Monday, ambulances have been keeping a low profile as a crowd has grown impatient and unsafe with the influx of people.

There are also greater questions for the city in the absence of a ringing New Year countdown.

Is it fitting for a place that caters to the (in)famous to have been ambushed by the (unsanctioned) last day of the year?

A massive canvas art project has been staging on the sidewalk for a decade.

Last year was slightly different, due to the fact that millions of people were watching the UN’s General Assembly in New York.

On the morning of 9 December, the participants wore white tuxedos or ball gowns and had to make a number of resolutions: a pledge to be kind to each other, to be aware of gun violence, to support people in need and the environment, among other things.

City law states that any street celebrations that call for the opening of a portion of New York’s streets to any organised events can cause greater inconvenience to the rest of the population, but there is no provision for outlawing them outright.

The crowds of revelers are still expected to exceed last year’s numbers, with some estimates putting the number in the vicinity of 4 million.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption New York’s federal court took down New York’s ‘safe rides home’ app, which has been called ‘too restrictive’

The city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, plans to urge New Yorkers to lower their blood pressure during the next few weeks by undergoing regular screenings.

He has warned that if adults do not get vaccinated or remain without protection against hepatitis A, hepatitis B and diphtheria, there will be a fall-out.

But, in an attempt to explain his reasons for not banning unsanctioned events, Mr de Blasio listed a number of cultural institutions that provide a range of health-related services and have tried to protect the city.

They include the city’s Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Arts and Design, both of which have offered free admission over Christmas.

The streets of Times Square will only be closed to all public transportation – taxis, busses and subways – on 28 December, when the “children’s Christmas tree” is lit by Smokey Bear.

And there are fewer taxi drivers than there are tickets to get out of Times Square, according to the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting.

A private cable car, yes, there are no “buttons”, but more importantly none is required to get on.

Perhaps the only tickets available are on the cable cars which travel directly to the back of Times Square, but it is a free ride.

There are free fireworks displays in the square, in addition to the ones staged by the Big Apple’ s skyscraper owners, like the 45-storey One World Trade Center.

To avoid falling from the top of the Three Amigos restaurant, an illegal extension of the number 3 that opened in 2014, some 5,000 people sign up every year.

Organisers of the tower are also planning to screen Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of The Lion King, which comes out in July.

The list goes on: The city’s federal court ruled this month that a shuttered smartphone app that crowdsources rides home was unlicensed.

The app, which has not been used in Times Square since it was shut down by police in October, was described by the judge as “too restrictive”.

It should be easier to get on for New Year’s Eve as the mayor has said he does not anticipate police will have any more arresting powers.

But, still, London’s West End will be shutting down its famous West End party just before midnight – although it will still keep its doors open throughout the night.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Fireworks are also being shown in other locations

The creative capital is trying to become more family-friendly and New Year

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