(WPIX) – Times Square once generated $5.8 billion in city and state taxes, but the COVID-19 pandemic paused much of that. Now, New York City is trying to lure tourists back with a temporary fixture — a 110-foot Ferris wheel.
“New York is back and the wheel is finally here,” said Vito Bruno, the creator of the Times Square Wheel. Six years in the making, the Times Square Wheel was a pre-pandemic dream for Bruno. And finally, as of this week, the wheel stands in the middle of the crossroads of the world.
The 10-minute ride costs $20 per adult. But the organizers are offering an incentive for vaccinated tourists: Admission is free for the first 100 people, each day if they’ve been vaccinated since Aug. 1. Locals, however, seem less than enthused with these crowds bringing the same old problems, namely vendors and costumed characters harassing tourists and New Yorkers alike.
“They literally come up and harass us looking for tips,” said Shante Shaw, a tourist from upstate New York. “If I wanted a picture, I would go to you guys.”
Keith Powers, an NYC city council member representing Times Square, is trying to fix the problem. “My bill … creates clearer rules that every single person has to stay inside the commercial area so they can’t harass people. No more wandering around Times Square looking for someone to take a picture with,” Powers said.
The Times Square Wheel is set to stop spinning on Sept. 12, but not everyone wants it to. “It is so much fun, so lively,” said Kevin Wilson, a bicyclist from New Jersey. “It should be permanent if the infrastructure can handle it.”
Tickets for the Times Square Wheel cost $20 per adult and $15 per child (aged 2–10). A VIP ticket, allowing riders to skip the line, is available for $35. More information can be found at the Times Square website.