Having lived in New York City for several years and having lived in and worked for many of those years in midtown proper has made the experience that much more present. Everyone is in your face all the time. While many may hear this and imagine glorious skyboxes and penthouse views of the world, my own experience was more like being the last one in the room and racing the roaches to the door of my sixth floor walkup. Be that as it may, I learned a great deal about being swept up in the crowds, which I did not like. I also learned a thing or two about avoiding crowds altogether, which there is a way of doing in midtown in New York City. Even on New Year’s Eve.
1) Avoid Times Square: If you are just trying to get from A to B and the path you tread happens to typically take you through Times Square, this is something you definitely need to not even consider. People begin lining up for a primo spot to watch the Ball drop 24 hours or more in advance. If you live on or are staying at, say, 57th Street & 8th Avenue and you’re trying to get to a party on 41st Street and 6th on any ordinary day all you would need to do is just walk south; avoid doing that. Head east to Madison or West to at least 9th and don’t even consider heading down the Rialto; the barricades, drunken revelers, police checkpoints, and overall melee will chew you up and spit you out. Also, you probably don’t want to try and find a cab on the leeward side of the New Year. Not only will the foot travelers beat you, but cabs on New Year’s Eve tend to try funny business which may stop you from getting into a cab at five in the morning when you could really use one!
2) Embrace Times Square: If however your goal on New Year’s Eve is to be able to enjoy the Ball and the madness, the other way to avoid the crowd is to become the crowd. Get there early, follow instructions of police, and don’t fight it. You may find yourself coming back every year, loving the energy, feeling alive from the experience or some stranger could pee on you. But if being at the epicenter is your goal then getting right in the thick of it is the way to go.
3) Times Square Alternatives: If you’re past the point of being able to tolerate some strange person vomiting on you, then having to console them and thinking of that as “an experience,” there are alternatives for you in New York City on New Year’s Eve. Check this website which lists all manner of places to go besides the big Ball Dropping Central including Bryant Park, Union Square, and other places. The aforementioned site also talks about the numerous places where the well to do can loiter and spend a lot of money to be “in” Times Square but not outside. The Marriott Marquis, Doubletree Guest Suites Times Square, and Renaissance New York Hotel Times Square are three very popular places you can go. But get your name on the list for 2010 as these reservations typically sell out months (if not longer) ahead of schedule.