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Times Square

New York City has its own little Las Vegas; it's called Times Square. But it's not a gambling haven -- it's an evening light show extrordinaire.

Times Square and it's surround are the Theater and cinema district; a place packed with restaurants, bars and gift shops. Go to Times Square in the evening, just as the electric dazzle is getting underway. It's a place to go and stop and stare upwards at the brilliant array of flashing, strobing electronic advertisement hoardings which all push themselves into your peripheral vision with equal force.

You don't need special fast film to snap the bright lights of Times Square; your photos will come out as well as if you were using your camera during the day. You're bound to gasp at what you see in Times Square. From almost-life-size models of Concorde suspended above one building to the legs of another famous model on a lit billboard fifty feet by forty feet across.

One more sobering and memorable display is a simple counter; it's lower digits flicking round quicker than the tenth-of-a-second-digit on a stop watch. It shows the amount -- in dollars -- that America is in debt and by how much with each passing second, America is falling further into debt.

Product placement gone mad?

Times Square though, is not a depressing place, and although it does have its sprinkling of mostly harmless beggars and weirdoes doing eccentric things, it's not particularly uplifting either. It's just gasp-inducing. How much electricity, you might care to wonder when you're there, does it take to keep all that electronic advertising going. It's Piccadilly Circus in London only much bigger, brighter, richer and more extrovert.

But you're reluctant aren't you, because so many people have told you it's an out and out war zone. Don't dismiss it out of hand though. For while the center of Manhattan's theater and fluorescent neon district has had a reputation for seediness for a number of years, it's a much more attractive and safe place to visit now, than it has ever been. Things have improved a lot there. The overall drop in New York's crime rate has fed through to Times Square, making it a much less daunting place, up until an hour after the evening theater audiences have left the area at least.

Tony's Beer & Pizza

Maybe it's best to be a little bit scared when you visit Times Square, not so much as to ruin your visit, but just enough to be on your toes and take sensible safety precautions, as you would in any city. Much like Central Park, you just would not go there alone after say 11:30pm, dripping with jewelry, cameras and expensive watches.

Now that you've summed up the bravery to go, Times Square is difficult to miss, because so many main streets cross it or pass extremely close by. To get there, wait for dusk or a little later, head for the chunk of Broadway between 46th and 47th streets.

And Tony O'Rourke always enjoys a slice or two, of pepperoni pizza at Sbarros on Times Square, washed down with a nice cold bottle of bud! Heaven!

Click here to see the Big Apple LIVE right now, with Earthcam's brilliant Times Square webcams!

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