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Date: 2020-02-21 Page is: DBtxt001.php L0300-TVM-for-place-Times-Square-New-York-1
Times Square, New York USA

What does TVM tell us about Times Square?

The TVM analytical framework tells us a lot.

If I go to Times Square today (2012) I will see a busy tourist destination ... a huge number of people every day enjoying themselves, taking in the sights, buying souvenirs, taking photographs, visiting theaters, eating in restaurants, and so on. But a single visit to Times Square does not, on its own tell me anything about its progress.

I know about its progress because I first went to Times Square in 1960 when it still carried some tourist attraction.

I passed through Times Square again in the 1970s when the area was a mecca for prostitution, sex shops, drugs and bums. The area was high crime, dirty and legitimate business closing up and moving to safer more desirable neighborhoods. What was once the “Great White Way” and the center for up-scale cinemas and theaters was almost out of business.

And we know about Times Square in the 1940s when it was one of the most famous destinations in the world.

There was a decline ... between the 1940s and the 1970s ... and there was progress from the 1970s until now.

Does TVM tell us anything about what caused the change from decline to progress?

What TVM tells us is that the Times Square neighborhood went from great success to terrible failure and back to success not because of one single factor, but because of many factors ... and that the interaction of these factors was complex and not easily predictable.

TVM tells us that complex factors do not result in linear change, but in change that proceeds at varying speed ... and sometimes at an uncontrollable speed and accelerating exponentially. Rather little change for years ... and then a tipping point, and a lot of change very quickly.

Many factors go into almost every change situation ... the decline was facilitated by the popularity of sex and drugs ... and a liberal legal environment that protected all sorts of behavior, even behavior that was offensive to many. When sex and drugs are economically profitable ... and permitted under the law, or difficult to stop using the law, then profitable business will grow. At the same time, older business that had been profitable became less so ... cinemas. Theater, etc ... and investment in these areas declined. Porn replaced first run classical films in the area ... profitable for the entrepreneurs but a disaster for the neighborhood. The police lost control ... and some in the police became involved in the prostitution and the drugs ... seemingly with impunity. The City of New York was in a financial crisis ... near bankruptcy ... the area was filthy and the sanitation department not cleaning up very well. Underneath ... the subway system was unreliable, filthy ... and sometimes described as the largest public urinal on the planet.

The rehabilitation and rebuilding of the Times Square neighborhood happened because there were many changes and initiatives ... not just one. In fact if any of the initiatives had been on its own without the support of the others ... there would have been failure. But many good things happened ... and the good things stayed in place for a long time.

Money ... some major commitments of money were made and some of the dilapidated properties were renovated ... Disney and Ford Foundation put their money on the line .. followed by others

New York survived near bankruptcy ... and the City as a whole prospered.

Tourism prospered worldwide ... but that would not have helped if Times Square was a third rate destination.

Legal ... it became possible for Public Private Partnerships to be operated for the benefit of the neighborhood. This helped get funding in the right amount doing the right things in the neighborhood.

Ethics / Public morality ... the unlimited in-your-face promotion and trade of sex and drugs became unacceptable in the area. Society did not want these things and law enforcement did their part.

Prostitution, homelessness, hopelessness ... these were everywhere in the Times Square neighborhood in the 1970s ... but organizations like Covenant House and others helped to address some of the root causes ... helping enormously but not sufficient to solve some of the big causal problems. They still work doing valuable things ... but not in a desperate situation any more ... but the safety net is still important.

Public transport ... the subway was upgraded for New York as a whole ... but the neighborhood got benefit from this. Tourists could get to Times Square without having to fear a dangerous subway

Crime ... the New York police which was once regarded as bloated and corrupt was reformed and has become one of the best police forces in the world ... and crime is now very low by any standard.

Hotels ... a huge investment has been made in world class hotels in the neighborhood

Restaurants ... all sorts ... and everywhere

Commercial ... surprisingly, the area is now not only a tourist destination but is now also home to many major international corporate offices ... especially in the finance and entertainment industries.

The text being discussed is available at

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TrueValueMetrics (TVM) is an Open Source / Open Knowledge initiative. It has been funded by family and friends plus donations from well wishers who understand the importance of accountability and getting the management metrics right. TVM is a 'big idea' that has the potential to be a game changer leveling the playing field so the wealth and power is shared on a more reasonable basis between people who work for a living and those that own the economy and the levers of power. In order to be effective, it cannot be funded in the conventional way with a for profit business plan, but absolutely must remain an open access initiative.

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