Times Square, often called "The Crossroads of the World", is located in the heart of New York City's midtown Manhhattan neighborhood. Originally called Longacre Square, the area between 6th and 9th Avenues and between 39th and 52nd Streets, was christened "Times Square" after the New York Times Company moved to the block in 1904. Times Square is the heart of the world's most important theater district as well as home to publishing giants, Conde Nast and Reuters as well as the NY Times. Over 26 million people visitor Times Square each year, including the hundreds of thousands that brave the New York winter chill to see the crystal ball drop over the Square each New Year's Eve.
Times Square, at the beginning of the 20th century was the center of New York's prosperity. This was where wealthy New Yorkers came for theater, music, and upscale restaurants. In 1907, it became the place to be for New Year's Eve, a tradition that has continued to this day.
The Great Depression and the economic downturn in the 1930s had a disastrous effect on the Square. By the late 1930s, the area was home to the sleazier elements of New York City, such as "peep" shows and adult movie theaters. This era is depicted graphically in the 1970s films, Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy.
The 1990s saw a rennaissance in Times Square, led by then mayor, Rudy Guiliani with the help of Michael Eisner of the Disney Company. Gradually, the seedy tenants of Times Square were replaced with the likes of the Disney-rennovated Amsterdam Theatre; ABC News, who broadcasts Good Morning America from the Square; the NASDAQ electronic stock exchange; and a giant Toys-R-Us store, complete with an indoor Ferris Wheel and a 4000-square foot "Barbie" house.
One of the most unique and exciting parts of Times Square has always been its advertising. Giant billboards compete with neon signs and, lately, electronic computer-generated advertising art. ABC News has a news ticker, NASDAQ broadcasts stock prices, and the GE building (parent of NBC News) broadcasts the Nightly News. Interestingly, Times Square zoning requires that tenants display bright signs.
Visiting Times Square
Times Square is a must-see for any New York visitor. Easily accessible from all parts of the city by subway and taxi, the Square offers something for visitors of all ages and interests. The area surrounding the Square is home to the majority of New York's Broadway theaters, offering world-class musical, dramatic, and comedy performances. The TKTS booth, just out of the Square, is a great place to get discounted (usually between 25 and 50 percent) tickets to same-day performances.
In addition to the retail outlets mentioned above, Times Square is home to a Virgin Records megastore; a huge family-oriented multipex movie theater; and the Marriott Marquis.
Sightseeing options in the Square include Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, a popular site filled with life-like replicas of movie stars, sports figures, and politicians. Recent additions include George Clooney, Jennifer Aniston, Lance Armstrong, and hip-hop star, Usher.
In the center of the Square is a state of George M. Cohan, a Broadway pioneer, best known for his songs, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Over There, and You're a Great Old Flag.
Hungry sightseers can find almost any kind of food in Times Square. Highlights include Virgil's, a southern BBQ restaurant; Kodama, a traditional sushi palace; Ruby Foo's, an Asian Fusion eatery; McHale's a traditional pub; and the Edison Cafe, a venerable Times Square coffee shop that has weathered decades in the area.
Any trip to New York City should include a stop at Times Square. The Square's vibrant signs and enthusiastic energy is sure to please even the most jaded of travelers.