One of the defining traits of being a New Yorker — and there are many of them — is telling everyone near and far just how much you abhor that part of town extending roughly from 41st to 48th, between 8th and 7th Avenues. Times Square. Because we are just so much superior to those sweaty Midwesterners. Right?

But I do wander down there myself sometimes. Not because of anything I could possibly enjoy about that patch of geography myself. No, I go there for the people. The tourists. Yes, really.

Not their physical presence, of course. Blocking sidewalks, hands high in the tourist sign, i.e. phones up in the air taking pictures of buildings that have now been photographed tens, if not hundreds, of millions of times.

But due to the nature of what happened to me, I have never been able to really appreciate this town from an outsider’s point of view. We are all tourists everywhere but where we live, and yet, the Times Square / tour bus routine has been denied to this Midwest native. I’ve never been on an aforementioned tour bus; I’ve never gone to the top of 30 Rock or the Empire State Building; the closest I’ve ever gotten to the Statue of Liberty is the free Staten Island ferry.

There is just something about how people pose in front of familiar landmarks or mounted NYPD cops, with everything so new and foreign to them. Their fascination lets me visit this little island of Manhattan vicariously as a wide-eyed outsider. So this is why I visit Times Square once or twice a year, not counting the other valid reasons of NYC natives, namely, having to work there, or going to a show or a movie.

I want to see this town from the point of view of an outsider. Seeing their wild enthusiasm genuinely makes me happy. Here are a few pictures of what I am talking about. This visit was totally impromptu with nothing but my phone and not my real DSLR camera. And either way, I do not pretend to be a professional photographer!

Tourists speak with NYPD officers in Times Square, 3/11/16. They had just posed for selfies.


A man takes a picture of a Times Square building with his phone. He seemed to be alone on this Friday night.


A woman waits to cross the street after taking pictures of Times Square buildings with her phone.


A young man takes a picture of an older relative with costumed characters at Times Square.



Tourists watching street performers near the Walgreens at Times Square.


It really sucks this one came out blurry. Their expressions were priceless. A mom takes a selfie with her kids outside the NYPD Times Square building.


It’s showtime!


Outside the Regal cinemas at Times Square.


A man takes a picture of his girlfriend, Times Square, 3/11/16. I did not see a single Elmo during this visit, interestingly enough. Frozen characters were out in force, however.


This is Matthew, a homeless young man seeking donations on 42nd Street, Times Square, 3/11/2016. NYC hosts a large number of 20-something homeless people. Our homeless skews far younger than SF’s battlehardened old bums. It is heartbreaking.