Times Square History

Times Square History

Times Square History

Times Square is a major commercial intersection in central Manhattan at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. It acquired its name in 1904 when Albert Ochs, publisher of The New York Times, moved the newspaper's headquarters to a new skyscraper on what was then known as Longacre Square. The name stuck, even after The New York Times moved across Broadway in 1913. Now known worldwide as a symbol of the American spirit, Times Square is home to many popular Manhattan attractions, including Hard Rock Cafe, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, and ABC's Times Square Studios (where Good Morning America is filmed).

Long Acre Square

Longacre Square started with a few brownstones built by a developer who saw potential for a new "uptown" neighborhood. Following the area's development, people moved to the square in droves, and with them came brothels, pickpockets, and streetwalkers. Soon, in a foreshadowing of its later fate, the area turned into a veritable red-light district. In 1895, Longacre Square had a new tenant, Oscar Hammerstein I, who developed a large entertainment complex in the hopes of rekindling an interest in opera. This complex, called the Olympia, occupied a full block on 42nd Street and featured three theaters.

During this time, many new theaters opened on the Great White Way, so named for Broadway's famous light show. The vaudeville circuit found success along with legitimate theater. In 1904, The New York Times held a New Year's Eve event to celebrate their relocation to Longacre Square. Their building was then the second tallest in Manhattan and became the symbol for a new, vibrant era. Every year since this first celebration, millions of people have gathered for the well-known and much anticipated ball drop ceremony.

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Attractions in Times Square

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1. Tenement Museum


ActiveFamily FriendlyScenicHistoricArtsyHoliday FunSportsCulturalMuseumBroadwayNightlifeNYC SightsRomanticShoppingTV and MoviesCentral Park
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Lower East SideDetails
4.5
1 Reviews
2. NYC Police Museum


ActiveFamily FriendlyScenicHistoricArtsyHoliday FunSportsCulturalMuseumBroadwayNightlifeNYC SightsRomanticShoppingTV and MoviesCentral Park
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Financial DistrictDetails
3.35
1 Reviews
3. Museum of Finance


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Financial DistrictDetails
0
0 Reviews
4. Eldridge St. Museum


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Location
Lower East SideDetails
0
0 Reviews
5. Trinity Church


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Location
Financial DistrictDetails
0
0 Reviews
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Hotels near Times Square

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Restaurants in Times Square

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Transportation in New York City

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Royal Way Limousine

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Times Square History NYC (continued)

NYC Times Square

Times Square became the premier theater district in the United States during the First World War. During the 1914-15 season, 113 productions were staged within the 13-block area. Many celebrities, including Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire, and Charlie Chaplin, flocked to the area, which came to be known as "the Tenderloin" on account of its high desirability. During this time, films were becoming an important part of popular culture, and with them came many new film theaters in Times Square and around New York City. When the Great Depression hit, the theaters and restaurants in Times Square initially seemed immune from the economic collapse. But as time went on, many property owners were forced to sell or close their theaters. The theaters were converted to show popular and vastly cheaper Hollywood movies.

Following this economic collapse, businesses needed something to draw people to the area. So began Times Square's era of vice. During the 1960s and 1970s, live nude shows, sex shops, erotic bookstores, and X-rated movie theaters dominated the area. More and more, Times Square was perceived as a symbol of the city's decline. With this new reputation came a higher crime rate that turned the area into one of the most dangerous parts of New York. Beginning in the 1980s, however, businesses and city officials began to revitalize the square. New legislation and building condemnation began to reverse Times Square's bad reputation. By 1993 there were only 36 adult businesses, down from 140 in the 1970s. Mayor Rudy Giuliani vowed to further improve the area by increasing security, closing pornographic theaters, and pressuring drug dealers and "squeegee men" to relocate.

Times Square NY

During the 1990s, Times Square became a new symbol for the vibrancy of Manhattan. It is the only place in New York City where tenants are required to display lighted signs (officially known as "spectaculars" and "Jumbotrons"). Boasting an estimated 26 million annual visitors each year, Times Square has changed in many ways since it was founded 100 years ago. Now, instead of worrying for your safety, you can stop to shop in a toy store on Broadway while on your way to a production of Disney's The Lion King.

One of the world's most recognizable places, Times Square has been featured in numerous books, films, and TV shows, including Stephen King's The Stand, Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Mimi Leder's Deep Impact. It was also featured in the feature films Vanilla Sky and I Am Legend, directed by Cameron Crowe and Francis Lawrence, respectively.

Times Square Facts for Kids

Looking for Times Square facts and figures for kids? You're in the right place! Below you'll find all the Times Square history, facts, and figures you'll ever need!

  • Original Name: Longacre Square.
  • Times Square Nicknames: The Crossroads of the World, the Great White Way, the Tenderloin.
  • Added to National Register of Historic Places: 2001.
  • Times Square Declared Smoke-Free: February 2011.
  • Times Square in Films: Deep Impact, The Stand, Knowing, Vanilla Sky, I Am Legend, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
  • Times Square Ball Weight: 11,875 lbs.
  • Number of Lights on Times Square Ball: 32,256.

Want to find cool Times Square history pictures? Visit our main Times Square NYC page!