Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

January 20, 2013

HOPKINS: This planned crackdown looks familiar

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — “Who wants to go down to Times Square and look at the

hookers?”

That crass joke was my introduction to New York City during a college field trip in April 1990. I was reminded of the joke when I attended Friday’s press conference at Lockport City Hall, during which Mayor Michael Tucker announced a new “impact zone” where efforts will be stepped up to deter crime, bight and other inner-city problems.

Now, Lockport and New York City have hardly anything in common. The Big Apple has 8 million people, Lockport a hair over 20,000. New York is the cultural and commerce capital of the U.S. Lockport is the birthplace of First Niagara Bank and has some very nice theaters and art centers, but they won’t be confused for Broadway or Greenwich Village.

Yet, they both have urban problems such as blight and crime. It appears that Lockport is about to take a page out of Rudy Giuliani’s playbook on how to clean up a city.

In 1990, Times Square was still a seedy district in midtown Manhattan, complete with the aforementioned ladies of the night, X-rated movie theaters and more. It was a far cry from the family-friendly place it is today. It would be safe to say that 23 years ago, Times Square still reflected the New York City of the 1970s (think “The French Connection”) than it did by the turn of the millennium.

Some of Times Square’s turnaround began before Giuliani took office in Jan. 1994. However, his “Broken Windows” approach to stomping out petty crime and other nuisances played a major role in that city’s turnaround from seedy to spiffy.

Crackdowns on graffiti, marijuana possession, turnstile jumping in the subway and aggressive panhandlers made a difference. Tourists began to take note. I saw a difference in July 1996, six years after my first visit. And the residents even seemed friendlier.

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