Officials investigating reports of a suspicious package in Times Square say the area is now clear and streets have been reopened to traffic.
Police descended on Times Square after someone notified authorities about an unattended package near the block where a failed car bomb was found over the weekend. The package -- a lunch cooler with a handle -- contained nothing but books and a water bottle, officials said.
While the response is a routine precautionary measure, security has been amped up in the area since a U.S. citizen from Pakistan admitted he drove a bomb-laden SUV into Times Square Saturday night with the intent to kill Americans.
The NYPD receives 100 reports of suspicious packages every day. Such calls are up 30 percent since the foiled Times Square bomb plot. Throughout the investigation, authorities stressed the precautionary nature of the response.
Police evacuated Times Square south of 47th street as a precaution. No buildings were evacuated, but workers were told to stay indoors as police responded. The cooler was found at 46th and Broadway. Traffic cameras showed several streets cleared of car traffic.
The bomb squad X-rayed the soft-sided cooler found on the pedestrian mall and determined it did not pose a threat, Browne said.
Police cordoned off the square with yellow tape, while yelling "Get back, get back'' at onlookers and guiding bomb-sniffing dogs through the area. Cars approaching the area were told to turn back as an eerie silence descended on the area.
Henry Goldfine, an attorney from New Jersey attending a meeting at the Marriott Marquis, said earlier he had planned to relax on the Times Square pedestrian mall but was turned away.
"Instead, I'm going back where there's no air and no light,'' Goldfine said, standing near the hotel. "We don't have things like this in New Jersey.''