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Crowded Streets. Neon lights. Packed storefronts. A barrage of speeding taxi cabs and confused tourists scrambling around each other in an oddly symphonic cacophony of noise and chaos. 

These are the things that define Times Square, a relatively small part of New York City that, to anyone not familiar with the rest of the United States’ premier metropolis, seems much larger than it actually is

While it may be known today as a busy center of culture and attractions, it used to be a more dangerous part of the city known for more risqué activities. This is still the Times Square that lifelong New Yorker Janet Canata remembers from her childhood.

She firmly upholds that, no matter how much that area changes, she’ll always see it as “the part of town you don’t go to.”

This kind of sentiment is shared among those who are familiar with Times Square’s current iteration. Michele Swanson, a hairdresser who’s also lived in New York City her entire life, tends to avoid the area due to all the hustle and bustle that she’d have to deal with. 

“Times Square is really a dynamo for all that craziness,” Swanson said. 

Indeed, Times Square’s unique and lucrative combination of captivating Broadway theater, vast shopping centers and some of the wildest oddities the world has to offer, all amount to a section of the city that is absolutely bursting with life and culture. Doris Leddy, another lifetime New Yorker, echoed this view. 

“With all the craziness — it’s still an attraction that only New Yorkers could love, even though it’s come a long way since the 1970’s,” Leddy said. 

To her, Times Square is an important area that a lot of “True New Yorkers” can appreciate, as at its very core lies what New York City stands for above all: opportunity. 

It’s perhaps this idea of New York being the “golden land of opportunity” that has carried Times Square to where it is now. Akshita Nistala, a high school senior who lives in Massachusetts but has visited the city before, said she considers The Crossroads of the World to be extremely representative of this ideal. 

She said that, from her perspective as the daughter of immigrant parents who came to the U.S. for a better life, Times Square is “a symbol of the so-called American Dream.”

As the most famous piece of New York, it makes sense that one could think of this area as such an important representation of what the city supposedly stands for to so many people, especially for someone who’s only experienced the city in short bursts as Nistala has. Even so, this outlook is one that affirms the idea that Times Square, for all of the problems that longtime residents of the city have with it, still remains nothing less than a shining symbol to people around the world.

While the legitimacy of the claim that the United States is the “Land of Opportunity” has come into question over the years, the fact remains that New York is definitely still a premiere location when it comes to building many different businesses or careers. 

It is loud and busy and absolutely teeming with so many different kinds of life — just like the rest of the city is. As such, it would certainly seem that Times Square is nothing less than representative of everything New York City is; for better and for worse.