Known as the place that never sleeps and iconified as “The Crossroad of the
World” and “The Great White Way”, Times Square is a huge, brightly
illuminated space in midtown Manhattan and the hub of the Broadway theater
district. The world’s busiest pedestrian intersection, the square is busy
24 hours a day, with nearly 40 million visitors a year.
Until 1904, it was called Longacre Square but was renamed after the New
York Times moved to the new Times Building, now the site of the annual ball
drop on New Year’s Eve. The first electrified advertisement appeared at the
corner of 46th Street and Broadway soon after.
With the onset of the Great Depression, Times Square was considered to be a
very dangerous area thanks to its many seedy establishments. But during the
commercial building boom of the 1980s, a long term development plan was
undertaken and in the 1990s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani led an effort to clean up
Times Square is now famous for the diversity of activities on offer and its
plethora of animated neon and LED signs—named “spectaculars”; the largest
being called “jumbotrons”—that rival Las
Vegas in density.
The Square has a huge tourist, entertainment, and corporate presence. You can
visit museums, bars, restaurants, and world brand shops. The adjacent Broadway
has 40 professional theaters offering plays, operas, musicals, and concerts. If
visiting for New Year, you simply must join the crowds for the New Year's Eve
ball drop; a brightly illuminated ball is lowered 75 ft (23 m) down a flagpole
to signal the start of the new year. There are always special guests helping the
Mayor lower the ball.
When visiting Times Square, remember that it is a smoke-free area and if
caught with a lit cigarette, you can be fined $50! The place tends to be crowded
so watch your bag and personal belongings. Do not leave your children alone;
dress them in bright colors so you don’t lose them. In such a large pedestrian
zone you can walk safely.
Times Square is at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and spans
from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. Because it is also a transportation hub,
there are many subway stations around, including 49th Street, Rockefeller
Center, Times Square, and Bryant Park. Two railway stations, Grand Central
Terminal and Penn Station, are within walking distance.