One of the key figures in transforming New York’s Times Square into what it is today is in Winnipeg.
Tim Tompkins spent time with city managers and property owners earlier today, and will speak at an open house tonight to discuss how things worked in the Big Apple.
Tompkins says many people don’t realize Times Square used to be much like Portage and Main is now, a place where pedestrians just didn’t go.
“Times Square had been such an unpleasant, unfriendly environment for pedestrians,” he says. “It was a place you just kind of got through.”
Tompkins says while he’s not here to tell Winnipeg what to do with it’s iconic intersection, he does say he sees similarities between the two spots.
“There’s a relationship between the streets and the spaces, the sidewalks and the spaces. Portage and Main is a place that has an important role in the identity and the history of the city, as is the case with Times Square.”
Tompkins has been invited to speak by the Downtown Winnipeg Biz, a group that has been pushing for the opening up of the intersection.
It was closed nearly in the 1970’s as part of a deal to build an underground mall. The contract to keep the intersection closed expires in 2019.
Mayor Brian Bowman campaigned on opening the intersection. He says it’s about making it a little more iconic than it is right now.
“What we’re looking to do is to breath new life into that intersection,” he says. “Right now when visitors go to that intersection, many of them have talked to me, and I’ve taken other municipal leaders to that intersection, and I think they’re underwhelmed. When they hear Portage and Main, the envision it being a little more grand than it is right now.”
The public forum is at the Fairmont starts at 5:30 p.m.