At Times Square, grabby costumed characters are finally being kept under control to some degree thanks to the addition of commercial activity zones where Elmo and Minnie can still hassle tourists for tips as well as new pedestrian flow zones where they cannot go and passersby are to be left alone.
However, Times Square is hardly the only neighborhood that’s been overrun by mercenary individuals. These days, Flatiron also comes pretty close, at least at the pedestrian plazas. If the weather’s nice, you can pretty much guarantee that any attempt to head over to Madison Square Park or one of the umbrella-shaded seats on the plaza will be impeded by people asking you about your hair, whether you like comedy or if you’d like to try a sample of something from a booth. Or all of the above. If it’s at least the latter case, this is because the city’s rented out part of the plaza to a company for promotional purposes. In the other cases, it’s because sales people love to stand in high-traffic areas so they can accost people on their lunch breaks.