Lonely Planet Writer

New Times Square zones for performers and pedestrians are painted on New York pavements

Times Square is famous for its bright lights, busy streets and an abundance of performers and tourists. But now, new brightly coloured boundaries have been painted on the pavement to create more of a separation between Elmos, Iron Men and the thousands of people who pass through the busy square daily.

Foreground of image features a strip of the Times Square plaza painted teal, with orange construction barrels surrounding it. Times Square lights and billboards are seen in the background, as well as many pedestrians.
Foreground of image features a strip of the Times Square plaza painted teal, with orange construction barrels surrounding it. Times Square lights and billboards are seen in the background, as well as many pedestrians. Image by NYC DOT

New York council approved plans for the new zones back in April, but workers have just painted them onto streets this week. The rules will officially go into effect on 21 June, with penalties for those who don’t stay in their zone. The decision was made following complaints about some performers’ aggressive behaviour from tourists and locals, as well as in an effort to help people travel through the busy square.

The designated activities zones are not limited to those in costumes, but include people selling tickets to shows or tours, topless women, naked cowboys and other performers who pose for pictures. The rules apply for all commercial activities, such as street entertainment, posing for photos and “vendors of an expressive manner” in exchange for tips, donations or compensation. There will also be “chill” zones for people to sit, hang out and watch the world go by, and express lanes for pedestrians to get where they need to go “without commercial hassle, interference or encumbrances”.