Times Square, NYC
Times Square is a major intersection in Manhattan, a borough of New York City, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. The Times Square area consists of the blocks between Sixth and Eighth Avenues from east to west, and West 40th and West 53rd Streets from south to north, making up the western part of the commercial area of Midtown Manhattan.
Times Square, nicknamed "The Crossroads of the World," has achieved the status of an iconic world landmark and has become a symbol of New York City. Times Square is principally defined by its spectaculars, animated, digital advertisements.
Before and after the American Revolution, the area belonged to John Morin Scott, a general of the New York militia where he served under George Washington. Scott’s Manor House was at what is now 43rd Street, surrounded by countryside used for farming and breeding horses. In the first half of the 19th century it became one of the prized possessions of John Jacob Astor, who made a second fortune selling off lots to hotels and other real estate concerns as the city rapidly spread uptown.
In 1904, New York Times publisher Adolph S. Ochs moved the newspaper’s operations to a new skyscraper on 42nd Street at Longacre Square. Ochs persuaded Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. to construct a subway station there, and the area was renamed "Times Square" on April 8, 1904. Just three weeks later, the first electrified advertisement appeared on the side of a bank at the corner of 46th Street and Broadway.
The New York Times, according to Nolan, moved to more spacious offices across Broadway in 1913. The old Times Building was later named the Allied Chemical Building. Now known simply as One Times Square, it is famed for the Times Square Ball drop on its roof every New Year’s Eve.
Also in 1913, the Lincoln Highway Association, headed by entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, chose the intersection of 42nd Street and Broadway, at the southeast corner of Times Square, to be the Eastern Terminus of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across the United States, which originally spanned 3,389 miles coast-to-coast through 13 states to its Western Terminus in Lincoln Park in San Francisco, California.
As the growth in New York City continued, Times Square quickly became a cultural hub full of theaters, music halls, and upscale hotels. Celebrities such as Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire, and Charlie Chaplin were closely associated with Times Square in the 1910s and 1920s. During this period, the area was nicknamed The Tenderloin because it was supposedly the most desirable location in Manhattan. However, it was during this period that the area was besieged by crime and corruption, in the form of gambling and prostitution.
The general atmosphere changed with the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Times Square acquired a reputation as a dangerous neighborhood in the following decades. From the 1960s to the early 1990s, the seediness of the area, especially due its go-go bars, sex shops, and adult theaters, became an infamous symbol of the city’s decline.
In the 1980s, a commercial building boom began in the western parts of the Midtown as part of a long-term development plan developed under Mayor Ed Koch and David Dinkins. In the mid-1990s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (1994–2002) led an effort to "clean up" the area, increasing security, closing pornographic theaters, pressuring drug dealers and "squeegee men" to relocate, and opening more tourist-friendly attractions and upscale establishments. Advocates of the remodeling claim that the neighborhood is safer and cleaner. Detractors, on the other hand, argue that the changes have homogenized or "Disneyfied" the character of Times Square and have unfairly targeted lower-income New Yorkers from nearby neighborhoods such as Hell’s Kitchen.
In 1990, the state of New York took possession of six of the nine historic theatres on 42nd Street, and the New 42nd Street non-profit organization was appointed to oversee their restoration and maintenance. The theatres underwent renovation for Broadway shows, conversion for commercial purposes, or demolition.
The theaters of Broadway and the huge number of animated neon and LED signs have long made them one of New York’s iconic images, and a symbol of the intensely urban aspects of Manhattan. Times Square is the only neighborhood with zoning ordinances requiring building owners to display illuminated signs. The density of illuminated signs in Times Square now rivals that of Las Vegas. Officially, signs in Times Square are called "spectaculars", and the largest of them are called "jumbotrons."
Times Square now boasts attractions such as ABC’s Times Square Studios, where Good Morning America is broadcast live, an elaborate Toys "Я" Us store, and competing Hershey’s and M&M’s stores across the street from each other, as well as restaurants such as Ruby Foo’s, the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, Planet Hollywood Restaurant and Bar and Carmine’s, along with a number of multiplex movie theaters. It has also attracted a number of large financial, publishing, and media firms to set up headquarters in the area. A larger presence of police has improved the safety of the area.
On February 26, 2009, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that traffic lanes along Broadway from 42nd Street to 47th Street would be de-mapped starting Memorial Day 2009 and transformed into pedestrian plazas until at least the end of the year as a trial. The same was done from 33rd to 35th Street. The goal is to ease traffic congestion throughout the Midtown grid.
Times Square is the site of the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop. On December 31, 1907, a ball signifying New Year’s Day was first dropped at Times Square, and the Square has held the main New Year’s celebration in New York City ever since.
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