Times Square. Road in New York City, New York

Times Square

Road in New York City, New York

Times Square at night Photo © Tom Roeleveld

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Times Square

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	Square South - Times Square
Times Square South - Times Square. Photo by Casey Spivey
Times Square is a world-famous intersection on the island of Manhattan in New York City. It lies at the junction of Seventh Avenue and Broadway and extends from West 42nd Street to West 47th Street. The center of the area is now a pedestrian plaza. As a matter of fact, Times Square is one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the entire world. About 330,000 people pass through the area on a daily basis; most of them are people on their way to work or tourists. Times Square is by far one of the most visited destinations on the planet, with a dazzling number of 39 million annual visitors.

With its enormous electronic billboards and flashing advertisements, it is one of the very icons of American culture. Even in the middle of the night, the bright ads make it feel like it is broad daylight. It is a focal point for commerce in New York City and maybe even in the United States. Times Square is home to more than a hundred flagship stores, but it is most famous for its theaters and TV studios. As the center of the Broadway Theater District, famous for its Broadway shows, Times Square attracts huge crowds of visitors every single evening.

History

By the end the 19th century, the city of New York had expanded north of 42nd Street. The development of the area was started by an investor who saw the potential of a new uptown neighborhood. In 1872, the area was the center of the carriage industry in the city. Because it didn't have a name yet, it was called ‘Longacre Square’, after London’s Long Acre (Wikipedia Article), the hub of carriage trade in that city. William H. Vanderbilt was the person who owned the American Horse Exchange at Longacre Square until the beginning of the next century.

Lower Manhattan was fast becoming the center of commerce and industrialization, a change that pushed theaters, entertainment, houses, and also prostitution to more northern areas. Soon, Longacre Square became known as the ‘Thieves Lair’ and its reputation declined rapidly. It turned into a red-light district. In 1895 a new tenant, Oscar Hammerstein I, developed a huge entertainment center in an attempt to bring back the interest in theater and opera. His first theater was called ‘The Olympia’. It occupied a whole block on 42nd Street and had three theaters. Many other new theaters opened their doors soon afterwards. The street became known as the ‘Great White Way’ for all the bright lights that lined it.

Times Square - Times
	Square
Times Square - Times Square. Photo by Jon Wiley
The modern name of the area was given in 1904, when the New York Times moved their headquarters to a skyscraper on Longacre Square. The newspaper’s publisher, Adolph Ochs (Wikipedia Article), also convinced New York’s mayor to build a subway station. The square was renamed Times Square and the address of the newspaper’s headquarters became 1 Times Square. Three weeks after the New York Times moved in, the first electronic advertisement appeared at the corner of Broadway and 46th Street. The opening of the new New York Times’ headquarters was celebrated with a display of fireworks, which started a tradition that still continues on New Year’s Eve today. The first ball drop from 1 Times Square on New Year’s Eve took place in 1907.

However, Times Square went through a hard time during the Great Depression, attracting strip clubs and peep shows. By the 70s, it had become a place of drugs, prostitution, and street crime. In the 80s and 90s, a redevelopment program and major clean-up was done by the mayors of the city. Many family-friendly and tourist attractions opened their doors in the 90s, the most notable of which was the Walt Disney Store. This led to the so-called Disneyfication of Times Square, which was a good thing.
Now, Times Square is a huge tourist magnet and a huge contributor to New York City’s nickname ‘the City that Never Sleeps’.

New York Times Square - Times
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New York Times Square. Photo by dustysnowcrash

Things to See and Do

The majority of visitors go to Times Square to see the huge, bright billboards and flashing neon lights. This is a real spectacle in itself. In addition, there are a large number of shops, stores, and restaurants in the area, as well as some fascinating museums. The biggest landmarks on Times Square are the Disney Store, the Hard Rock Café New York, Toys ‘R’ Us, Times Square Studios, Coca Cola Sign, and Planet Hollywood.

Times Square - Times
	Square
Times Square - Times Square. Photo by Nicolas Vollmer
An absolute highlight of a visit to Times Square is catching a Broadway show. There are many theaters off and on the square and tickets can be bought on the Times Square ticket booths.

Nearby Landmarks

Times Square really is a unique square in the world; nothing compares to the combination of dazzling displays of neon light advertisements and thousands of people. However, New York City is packed with other attractions and iconic landmarks, such as the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and One World Trade Center.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Dec 04, 2014

Pictures of Times Square

Flickr everywhere on Times Square - Times Square
Flickr everywhere on Times Square - Photo by Markus Spiering

Times Square - Times Square
Times Square - Photo by Jon Wiley

Not Lost in New York - Times Square
Not Lost in New York - Times Square. Photo by Trey Ratcliff

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