Like Mayor de Blasio, the new Times Square Wheel started about an hour late on Wednesday.
A bunch of selfie sticks and I stood sweating in 90-degree heat for an eternity, taking in the sights of boarded-up shops and scaffolding while inhaling the smells of summer in Times Square — a collective odor that, if it were sold at Bergdorf’s, would be called “Repulsion” by Calvin Klein.
Us poor chumps were miserably waiting our turn to ride the lame new Ferris wheel, which will be open till Sept. 12 on Seventh Avenue and 47th Street.
What an idiotic spot to plop a 110-feet-high attraction meant to provide sprawling city views. Um, there are no views! On one side is 2 Times Square, which stands at 254 feet, and on the other is the 685-foot-tall 1585 Broadway building. Look, kids! Morgan Stanley and the Olive Garden!
Once aboard the small white carriage that allegedly seats up to six people — sure, if they’re Smurfs — you first notice the scratched-up Plexiglas. Did an inmate try to break out of here? Can’t blame them.
As the ride moves very quickly, you can still catch a bit of Times Square from the front and back. I spotted asphalt, small, depressing crowds and the drug dealer who tried to sell me pot.
I prefer the scenery from the bar at the Marriott Marquis hotel a couple blocks away. You can still see all the same stuff, only with air conditioning and a cocktail.
The ticket price to glimpse an LCD ad for “Paw Patrol” is $20 for general admission, $15 for kids and $35 if you want to skip the line. Since you go around just 5 times, that’s $4 per rickety revolution for the cheapest adult ticket. The whole ride lasts less than 10 minutes.
How very New York to sell the crummiest possible experience for top dollar. Other cities don’t pull these kinds of stunts.
The London Eye, situated along the lovely River Thames, provides wondrous, 360-degree views of England’s capital. You can see Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, the Shard and, on especially clear days, as far away as Windsor Castle. You spend a generous half hour in the gondola and it costs $33. Worth every pence.
Stateside, Chicago’s Centennial Wheel on Navy Pier overlooks Lake Michigan and the spectacular Windy City skyline. It sets you back an easier $15.
Listen, I understand that Times Square needs a boost right now. Broadway and neighborhood restaurants are only just coming back, and most international visitors are still locked out of the US. The situation is dire. But couldn’t the No. 1 tourist attraction in America come up with something cooler than what you might find at a state university homecoming? Something unique to one of the most iconic, well-heeled cities on earth?
Here in New York, the global center of culture and commerce, this basic carnival rental promises to “showcase the crossroads of the world as never seen before.” True. I’ve never seen it so sad and desperate.