Jackhammers resounded in Times Square this week, ripping up sections of decorative brick that had been laid over the past few years.
According to dnainfo.com, two of the eight recently created “designated activity zones” (DOZ's) for the plaza's ubiquitous costumed characters are being eliminated, and a Department of Transportation spokeswoman reportedly said they will not be replaced.
Local businesses and business groups had campaigned to regulate the characters, who had flooded Times Square since it was turned into a pedestrian plaza. The costumed figures—including cartoon characters, Muppets, Statues of Liberty and topless female dancers who wear only body paint—pose for photos with tourists and then ask (sometimes demand) tips of up to $20. The local businesses protested that they had become a nuisance. This past spring the New York City Council voted to give the Department of Transportation the authority to regulate the characters in Times Square and other public places throughout the city.
The DOT formulated a plant to create the eight blue-painted “designated activity zones” in Times Square where the characters could gather, leaving other areas free so visitors could pass unimpeded.
The DOT was quoted as saying, “In collaboration with our partners at NYPD, we will continue to monitor construction impacts on the DAZ locations and their capacity to determine if temporary DAZ locations are necessary to accommodate activity.”
A DOT spokesperson told Playbill.com, “DOT is reviewing the impact of construction on the designated activity zones and will make any necessary adjustments, including the addition of temporary designated activity zones, if needed.”
The work is part of the renovation of Times Square as a pedestrian plaza that has been ongoing since 2012.