A man attacked with a machete. A young woman killed after police said a 22-year-old woman stabbed her in an unprovoked attack near the Port Authority bus terminal. A carpenter waiting for a co-worker in the bus station stabbed nine times as he sat and read.

Times Square, the gaudy icon of Manhattan, and the surrounding streets have seen a string of attacks since April — sometimes in broad daylight — that have led to blaring headlines. They came just months after a winter spate of violence fed fears, inflamed by accusations from Republican politicians, that New York was sliding towards chaos and violence.

Those who live and work in the area say they are also concerned by the desperation they see every day in the place that styles itself as the Crossroads of the World: heroin users shooting up on the sidewalk, people suffering from mental health crises screaming in the streets and pervasive homelessness.

But despite the conspicuous incidents, most major crimes in Times Square have actually fallen, police said, as officers, city officials and community groups work to improve conditions.

Mayor Eric Adams and Alvin Bragg, Manhattan’s district attorney, said this week that they are working together to fight those problems and a slew of others that residents and businesses in Times Square have complained about for months, including illegal cannabis shops, shoplifting and scaffolding on buildings that give cover to drug users and dealers.

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Their new Midtown Community Improvement Coalition is one of five such groups the city has assembled across the five boroughs to take on chronic complaints.

Times Square is the heartbeat of our tourist dollar. That is our anchor,” Adams said during a news conference Tuesday. “So it must be clean,” he said. “It must be safe.”

Here’s what to know about the situation in Times Square:

Crime statistics show a mixed picture

Times Square, once the seamy home of peep shows and pornography shops before its transformation in the 1990s into a family-friendly tourist destination, now attracts an average of about 240,000 to 280,000 people a day, well below the foot traffic it saw before the pandemic. , according to the Times Square Alliance, a business group.

Still, the area, defined by the Times Square Alliance as stretching from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue between West 40th and West 53rd Streets, remains a hub of office buildings, tourist attractions and hotel rooms around the city’s busiest subway station. Thousands of people live there, although many New Yorkers, repulsed by its neon lights, throngs of people and colorful mascots who accost passersby, have ceded Times Square to the tourists.

The fortunes of Times Square, one of the country’s most famous tourist destinations, are critical to the city’s overall economy. The police said that the area has made “substantial progress” on crime.

This year has seen a 13% decrease in major crimes compared with last year, largely because of a drop in robberies, grand larcenies and burglaries, according to police statistics for the Midtown Precinct South, which includes Times Square.

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But as of June 30, there had been three homicides in the precinct, one more than the same time last year. And reports of rapes and felony assaults, where a deadly weapon is used or a victim suffers a serious injury, were also up for the same time period, a jump reflected across the city, according to department figures.

Petty larceny, retail theft and misdemeanor assault are also on the rise. Arrests for drug-related crimes are up 14%, a reflection of the city’s determination to tackle drug trafficking, police said.

Residents include hard-to-help populations

Times Square’s proximity to transportation hubs — Penn Station and Port Authority — made it a likely place to open shelters and methadone centers in the 1980s and 1990s, said Barbara Blair, president of the Garment District Alliance, a business group whose area abuts Times Square. The neighborhood’s relatively few residents also meant less pushback, Blair said.

Today, the midtown area that includes Times Square and the garment district has among the city’s largest concentrations of shelters, mental health clinics and substance use disorder programs, according to the city’s comptroller.

And in the past two years, thousands of migrants have amassed near Times Square, where the city has contracts with hotels to house the new arrivals. Adams often says the influx has further strained the city’s ability to provide help with housing and mental health.

“There are people who are struggling, that are suffering and need services, and we should have services for them,” Blair said. “But you can’t put them all in one place.”

What is being done?

The Community Improvement Coalition that Adams announced Tuesday has been gathering speed since April.

Employees from more than 20 agencies, including the district attorney’s office, the Police and Fire departments, Adams’ Office of Community Mental Health and the Department of Homeless Services have canvassed the neighborhood, talking to business owners and residents to address problems and connect vulnerable people. with resources.

“There are a lot of people that are really trying,” Blair said.

The police said they are boosting their presence in Times Square and along the Eighth Avenue corridor between Penn Station and Port Authority. The city’s Special Narcotics Prosecutor, which normally handles larger cases like trafficking and distribution, has been targeting drug dealers in the area since 2022. Since then, more than 320 people have been prosecuted for felonies.

And the Times Square Alliance has joined other organizations in a separate program called “Community First” to reduce homelessness, mental health problems and drug use.

The program aims to connect people with resources, said Danielle Mindess, project director for the Midtown Community Justice Center. It relies on getting the trust of people who have been mistreated in shelters and hospitals and are reluctant to return. Trust is built slowly — with free coffee at a kiosk in Times Square or by giving away a pair of new socks or pants — and by “peer navigators,” center employees who once struggled with the same problems and canvass Times Square daily.

“There are a lot more people out there than we can serve with the team we have,” Mindess said. “It’s pretty evident that the need is clearly great.”

How are New Yorkers reacting?

Residents around Times Square said they are hopeful but still worried.

Jon Furay, a 60-year-old independent film producer who has lived on West 37th Street since 1997, said he has encouraged other residents to call 311 and 911 and attend more neighborhood meetings. Recently, he said, a neighbor complained that he came home to find two men in the hallway — stark naked — sticking needles into their arms and having sex.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Hawker said. “It’s never been so bad.”

Despite such shocks, most people still feel comfortable walking around the area, said Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance. He pointed to an alliance survey conducted in February that found that 83% of the 1,500 respondents, who included both residents and tourists, said they felt safe.

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Mindess said she hopes residents and visitors will be patient as organizations like her work to improve the lives of marginalized people. “To think there is an immediate quick fix to make it go away, whether it’s the police or through what we’re doing, I don’t think that’s reasonable,” she said.

During a precinct council meeting on June 25, the commander, Inspector Aaron Edwards, encouraged the roughly 40 people in attendance to continue alerting elected officials about problems.

Be a “squeaky wheel,” he said. “Keep making a lot of noise.”