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So during the strike the streets felt really crowded. We all can agree on that. But has anybody else noticed that the streets still feel really crowded? Because apparently they have been.

Mechanical counters in Times Square registered a 57 percent increase in congestion this week over the same period last year. Mostly, authorities think this is due to yet another "perfect storm":

There was the transit strike itself, which prompted many in the region to put off visiting Manhattan from the days before Christmas to the week before New Year's Day. With both holidays falling on Sundays, many took the intervening week off from work to shop and see the sights.

For retailers, the popularity of giving gift cards as presents has contributed to a surge in after-Christmas shopping, industry analysts said. And for tourists from abroad, the robust exchange rates of many currencies against the dollar have turned the city into a bargain

Times Square, the perennial center of gridlock, is under added strain this year as it is prepared for competing New Year's Eve telecasts by Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest, Regis Philbin and Carson Daly, and live performances by Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige. The shows are all supported by video trucks, soundstages, portable bathrooms and forklifts that are already pushing pedestrians from the sidewalks to the streets.


Yet another reason why you won't find us anywhere near Times Square tonight.
Photograph by Hiroko Masuike for the New York Times.