Times Square

Times Square "Crossroads of the World"

Times Square in the heart of New York City's midtown Manhattan district is called the "Crossroads of the World" by the Square's resident, ABC News. It's a fitting moniker. Times Square is home to publishing giants, New York Times and Conde Nast; the NASDAQ financial market; and the world's most important theater district, among other things. As a tourist attraction, it draws over 26 million visitors each year, including the hundreds of thousands who brave the winter chill each year to see the crystal ball drop on New Year's Eve.

History

Times Square is not truly a square. It's more of a district, bordered by 6th and 9th Avenues and by 39th and 52nd Streets. Originally called Longacre Square, Times Square was christened in 1904 when the New York Times Company moved to the block. Shortly thereafter, in 1907, Times Square began its New Year's Eve tradition, and the area's place in history was secured.

Times Square has had a turbulent history. It was the center of posh New York during the early 20th century, filled with theaters, music halls, and elegant restaurants and hotels. The Great Depression and the subsequent economic crash of the 1930s ended all that, and the area became known for its sleazy "peep shows" and adult movie houses. Broadway theatergoers would rush to and from the shows, avoiding the area as best they could. This period, which lasted until the early 1990s, was aptly depicted in numerous films, including Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy.

The Restoration


Time Square began to change in the early 1990s, led by then-mayor Rudy Guiliani with the help of Michael Eisner and the Disney Corporation. One-by-one the more seedy elements of the Square moved to the outer boroughs, replaced by such tenants as the Disney-restored Amsterdam Theatre; Toys-R-Us, with their indoor Ferris wheel and 4000-square foot Barbie house; ABC News, who broadcasts Good Morning America from Times Square; and a Virgin Record Megastore.

Gradually, the area regained its status as the center of New York City activity. Today, numerous restaurants, of all genres as well as hotels, retail outlets, and theaters line the Square. Recent movies, including Spiderman and Vanilla Sky, have emphasized the area's new vibrancy.

The Signs

One of the most appealing and unique aspects of Times Square is its larger-than-life billboards and neon signs. Recently, computer-generated billboards have joined the ranks with more traditional signage. You can even watch the NBC evening news from the multi-story sign on the GE (NBC's parent company) building. Interestingly, zoning in Times Square requires that tenants display bright signs.

Visiting Times Square

Times Square offers something for visitors of all ages. The TKTS booth is located here, a great place to get same-day Broadway theater tickets at a significant discount (usually 25 - 50 percent). Also on the Square is Madame Tussaud's Museum, a collection of life-like wax figures, drawn from the movies, politics, sports, and the news. Some of the featured personalities include George Clooney, Lance Armstrong, Paris Hilton, the American Idol stars, and hip-hop singer Usher.

In the center of Times Square stands a statue of Broadway legend, George M. Cohan, best known for his songs "Yankee Doodle Dandy", "Over There", and "You're a Grand Old Flag".

Hungry sightseers can find every sort of restaurant in Times Square. Among them are Virgil's, a southern-style BBQ joint; Kodama, a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant; Ruby Foo's, a popular Asian fusion eatery; McHales, a traditional pub restaurant; and the venerable Edison Café, a typical New York coffee shop that has weathered all of the changes to Times Square.

No trip to New York City is complete without a stop at Times Square. Its larger than life billboards and non-stop energy are sure to impress even the most jaded traveler.

Location: bordered by 6th and 9th Avenues and by 39th and 52nd Streets
Phone: 212-768-1560
E-mail: info@timessquarealliance.org

Click here to visit Times Square official website.
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