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Times Square Facts

Times Square is a major commercial entertainment center, tourist destination, and neighborhood in the Midtown Manhattan area of New York City. It is at the intersection of Seventh Avenue and Broadway. Time Square covers West 42nd Street to West 47th Street and is called the “Crossroads of the World.”

It is Extensively lit by numerous billboards and advertisements. It is one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions, with about 50 million visitors annually. But if 60 million people go to New York City yearly, that means that ten million of them do not visit Times Square. Not possible.

Times Square draws approximately  330,000 people daily, many of them tourists. On its busiest days, over 460,000 pedestrians walk through Times Square.

Here are more interesting facts about Times Square.

What is the Nickname of Times Square?

Times Square has many nicknames.

  • The Crossroads of the World
  • The Center of the Universe
  • The Heart of the Great White Way
  • The Heart of the World.

What is Time Square Famous For?

  • Times Square is the most famous entertainment center in the world.
  • In the middle of Times Square is the wall, with billboards and large screen television. That building is the One Times Square Building.
  • At the One Times Square Building, annual ceremonies are held for the ball drop every New Year’s Eve. The ball descends the pole from 25 stories and is perfectly timed to hit the summit at midnight every New Year’s Eve.
  • The ball at Times Square is a vast geodesic sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11,575 pounds. Originally, it was made from iron, wood, and 100 incandescent light bulbs. The current ball features an electronic LED lighting system and triangular crystal panels on the outer surface.
  • Times Square is known as one of the most famous landmarks in the world and a symbol of the City of New York.
  • The Times Square area has frequently been used as a location for movies, television, literature, music videos, and video games. Films such as Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy have had Times Square’s darker days dramatized in them.
  • Times Square is easily recognized by viewers and spectators when viewing a film or television.
  • Yoko Ono’s conceptual art, IMAGINE PEACE, took place in Times Square in 2012.

What is the Big Screen in Times Square Called?

  • The “Mega Screen,” also known as the “Broadway Spectacular,” is located five flights above the street level at 1500 Broadway and West 43rd Street, in the heart of Times Square Plaza.
  • The screen is situated across from the NASDAQ and directly across from One Times Square Plaza, where on New Year’s Eve, the ball drops.
  • The NASDAQ sign stands 37 feet high, which makes it the largest LED sign in the world.
  • The first Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop occurred in 1907. The tradition continues today, and more than a million people see it each year, along with the millions that view it on television worldwide.
  • The screen stands eight stories high and is as long as a football field, covering the entire block from 45th Street to 46th Street on Broadway, the center of the Times Square “bow tie.”

Can You See Times Square From Space?

  • Times Square is lit so brightly, and it is one of the few places on the planet that astronauts can spot from outer space, which makes this one of the most impressive and exciting facts about Times Square.

Does Anyone Live in Times Square?

  • Although Times Square has always been known primarily as the home of NYC’s theater district and major corporations, more and more people call Times Square home.
  • There are pros and cons to living in the Times Square area.
    • Pros
      • One of the pros is luxury living. People moving here will have their pick of some of the most luxurious residential options in the city. These residences are geared toward extremely busy people involved in their careers and who demand the best. Amenities like 24-hour doormen and a fully equipped gym are typical here.
      • As one of the city’s most visited areas, transportation into the area and out again is vast. Almost every train line in the city travels 42nd Street from east to west, making transferring to other train lines simple. In addition to the subway, buses and cabs are very plentiful.
    • Cons
      • It is very crowded. Tourism, of course, is vital to the local economy. The city and the businesses that call NYC home could not survive without tourism. It is overwhelming when you have hordes of people walking around in what could be called your “front yard.” When attempting to get to work or into your apartment, wading through the crowd can be trying.
      • It is costly to live in Times Square. A bottle of water or a hot dog will cost three times that of anywhere else. Retailers tend to price items higher in order to cover their own rising costs. But fortunately, groceries are simply a subway ride or an online order away.
      • Apartments are extremely expensive too – but Times Square is a place where you get what you pay for.

What Can You Do in Times Square for Free?

  • You could spend hours in Times Square shopping, people watching and just looking at the fantastic billboards.
  • There are many free entertainers in Times Square.
  • In 2016, the city decided to make things less chaotic by designating certain areas for specific activities in Times Square.
  • Participate in official Times Square events. From innovative public art projects to entertainment options for all ages, check the Times Square Events website to see what is happening on any particular day.
  • Experience the Midnight Moment at Times Square. Every night from 11:57 pm to midnight, witness the world’s biggest digital art exhibition. Huge billboards in Times Square are synchronized, resulting in moments of fabulous whimsical imagery.
  • Grab a seat in the pedestrian zone or sit on the famous red TKTS steps. TKTS sells discount tickets for Broadway shows. Something to check out if you are in the city.
  • The TKTS Booth for discount theatre tickets won an Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The architects were Perkins Eastman, Choi Ropiha, and PKSB Architects.
  • There is a statue of composer and entertainer George M. Cohan at the TKTS booth for the Broadway theaters.
  • The northern triangle of Times Square is officially called Duffy Square. It was dedicated in 1937 to World War I chaplain Father Francis P. Duffy of New York City’s 69th Infantry Regiment and is a memorial dedicated to him.
  • Hug your favorite cartoon character. The Statue of Liberty, Elmo, thank the super-heroes who keep us safe. But keep in mind these performers do not work for the city; they work for tips.
  • Hear a gospel choir in Times Square. It’s free, and it’s fun. No need to travel to Harlem to hear a good gospel choir. The Times Square Church is a lesser-known church in the city that has a fabulous choir. It is on West 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.
  • NYC has a lot of free TV tapings, including the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The taping goes from 5:30 pm to 7 pm.
  • Many attractions are included for free with the purchase of most NYC tourist discount passes.

Do the Lights in Times Square Ever Turn Off?

  • The lights never turn off in Times Square, except during a major power outage.
  • By law, the buildings in Times Square must have a minimum amount of display lighting. This regulation is to preserve the area’s reputation for bustle, glitz, and glamour.

How did Times Square Get Its Name?

  • It was initially called Longacre Square. The name was changed to Times Square in April 1904, when the New York Times moved into the new Times Building, located in the center of the Square.
  • It is famous for the outdoor news “zipper” that displays up to the minute news.
  • Then the Times Building was renamed the One Times Square and remains so until now.

Miscellaneous Interesting Facts About Times Square

  • According to the Wall Street Journal, it will cost a business between $1.1 million and $4 million annually to advertise on one of the enormous digital signs in Times Square.
  • The New York skyline is always lit up because lights are required to help keep aircraft from crashing into buildings. The continuous 24/7 lighting in Times Square helps this effort.
  • There are many other things to see and do in Times Square.
    • Madame Tussauds
      • Some of the wax figures presented at the museum include Madonna, Justine Bieber, former President Obama, and many more.
    • Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
    • Visit One Times Square
    • Self-Guided Walking Tour
    • The Knickerbocker Hotel
    • The New Victory Theater
    • The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
  • Times Square is a great place to visit at night. There are many people around after midnight when the theaters let out.
  • Two of the most common crimes affecting tourists are pickpocketing and taxi scams.
  • Originally known as Long Acre Square, named after London’s carriage district, Times Square was the site for William H. Vanderbilt’s American Horse Exchange.
  • In the late 1880’s Longacre Square consisted of a large open space in the middle of drab apartments. The neighborhood soon began to change.
  • One Times Square is mostly empty now, but it holds the billboard wall that generates over $23 million a year and holds the New Year’s Eve ball.
  • In the 1990s and 2000s, revitalization and investment turned the area into a booming tourist destination. Today, it is an excellent place for families and home to many popular stores, restaurants, and broadway shows.
  • Times Square became mostly car-free in 2009, with the closing of Broadway to automobiles and the addition of temporary pedestrian plazas. This bold move by then-major Michael Bloomberg became permanent.
  • Want to see Times Square empty? Watch the film Vanilla Sky. Wow.
  • Times Square holds the record for the largest gathering of people in any one location. In 1945, over two million people gathered to celebrate the victory of World War II.
  • Times Square has its own museum located in the Embassy Theater. You can learn about New Year’s Eve traditions, Broadway costumes, and more.
  • Times Square has been a smoke-free zone since 2011, and if you are caught smoking anywhere in the area, you will be fined at least $50 right on the spot. Don’t take the chance.
  • The area is famous for many bars and tourist attractions. But there are many you can’t see. The Square has various “invisible” and “hidden” bars and venues found nestled deep in unassuming townhouses.
  • One of the hidden bars frequented by celebrities is inside an unmarked townhouse on West 46th Street, called Bar Centrale.
  • Thanks to Max Neuhaus, an American classical musician and artist, they created the permanent sound sculpture, which runs 24/7. You can hear it when you are near 46th Street and Broadway. It provides a constant noise clip.
  • Times Square is not a square. It is two conjoining triangles.
  • Broadway is the world’s musical theatre capital, surpassing London’s West End for the global title. Many of the biggest film and music stars got their start on Broadway, and business continues to boom.
  • Times Square is one of the most artistic places in the world. It reflects the global art scene and is represented by many public art programs, art installations, performers, murals, subway art, and more. One of the notable examples of this is the mural by American artist Roy Lichtenstein that decorates the wall of a subway station.
  • The “View” restaurant in the Marriott Marquis has 360-degree views of New York, as it is the only revolving restaurant in the city.
  • The famous photograph showing the kiss of a soldier and nurse signifying the end of WWII occurred in Times Square on V-E Day, May 8, 1945, and was documented by Alfred Eisenstaedt.
  • On May 8, 1945, a massive crowd celebrated the Victory in Europe in Times Square. Then on August 15, the largest crowd in Times Square’s history gathered to celebrate the victory over Japan.
  • The victory itself was announced by a headline on the “zipper” that read “OFFICIAL ***TRUMAN ANNOUNCES JAPANESE SURRENDER ***.” The six asterisks represented the branches of the country’s Armed Forces.

Some Early History Facts About Times Square

  • Before and after the American Revolution, Times Square’s area belonged to John Morin Scott, a general with the New York militia under George Washington.
  • Scott’s manor house was located at the current 43rd Street and was surrounded by country used for horse breeding and farming.
  • In the first half of the 19th century, it became one of John Jacob Astor’s prized possessions. He continued to amass a fortune selling off lots to hotels and other real estate concerns as the city rapidly spread uptown.
  • By 1872, the area had become the center of New York’s horse carriage industry.
  • The area had not been given a name. City authorities decided to name it after Long Acre in London, where the horse and carriage trade was located in that city. Hence the name Longacre Square.
  • William Henry Vanderbilt owned and ran the American Horse Exchange there.  In 1910, it became the Winter Garden Theater.
  • Longacre Square became nicknamed the Thieves Lair for its reputation as a low entertainment district.
  • The first theater in the district was the Olympia, built by cigar manufacturer and musical impresario Oscar Hammerstein I.
  • According to history, by the early 1890s, this sparsely settled stretch of Broadway was ablaze with electric lights and middle and upper-class theatres, restaurants, and cafes.
  • Advertising grew significantly in the 1920s, rising from $25 million to $85 million over the decade of the 20s.
  • At the turn of the 20th century, many impressive theatres were established on 42nd Street. By the second decade of the century, the Times Square and Broadway area had become the most famous entertainment district in America.
  • This was due to the Square’s central location and because it was situated beneath a large, newly constructed subway. At this time, Broadway became synonymous with American musical theatre.
  • As America became deepened into the Great Depression, legitimate theatres in Times Square began to close and were converted to motion picture theatres.
  • As the 20th century progressed, Times Square became sleazy and tawdry with adult entertainment. By the ’60s and ’70s, it was again crime-ridden.
  • Times Square became the preeminent American venue for big, bright electric signage and advertising, especially after the development of neon signs in the 1920s.
  • Beginning in 1928, the Times “zipper” used 14,800 lightbulbs to depict current news headlines.
  • Some of the most famous signs were those of:
    • A huge coffee cup out of which came real steam
    • A cigarette smoking man, blowing steam-generated smoke rings
  • The Wrigley Spearmint Gum sign, the biggest electric sign in the world at the time, cost $9,000 per month to rent.
  • Contemporary critics of the electric sign advertising, Thorstein Veblen and G. K. Chesterton, disliked Times Square’s signage.
  • Fritz Lang, a movie producer, after seeing Times Square in 1923, used it as his inspiration for his dark film Metropolis.
  • Entertainment icons such as Fred Astaire, Charlie Chaplin, and Irving Berlin were closely associated with Times Square in the early years of the 20th century.
  • During the early part of the 20th century, the area began to deteriorate due to crime and corruption from gambling and prostitution.
  • There is one criminal case that fostered much attention during this time – the case of police officer Charles Becker.
    • Lieutenant Becker was in the New York City Police Department between the years of 1890 and 1910.
    • He was tried, convicted, and then executed for the first-degree murder of a gambler from Manhattan named Herman Rosenthal near Times Square in  1912.
    • He appealed his conviction and was retried. But the conviction held.
    • He may have been the only police officer to be executed for crimes directly connected to the official performance of his job.
    • Becker was executed in Sing Sing Prison on July 30, 1915, in the electric chair.
    • He was buried in the Bronx next to his daughter on August 2, 1915.

More Interesting Facts About Times Square

  • In 1990, the State of New York took ownership of six out of the nine historic theatres located on 42nd Street. The New 42nd Street Non-Profit Organization was charged with overseeing the restoration and maintenance of these theatres.
  • Tenants in Times Square buildings since the late 20th century have been required by law to display eye-catching signs. The result being the area remains a nonstop, flashing feast for the eyes.
  • The theatres were either demolished, converted for commercial purposes, or renovated for continued use for Broadway shows.
  • Times Square currently has attractions such as:
    • ABC’s Times Square Studios. Good Morning America is broadcast live from that location.
    • Hershey’s and M&M stores compete directly across the street from each other.
    • Many great restaurants such as:
      • Ruby Foo’s, a Chinese eatery
      • Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, a seafood restaurant
      • Planet Hollywood Restaurant and Bar, a theme restaurant
      • Carmine’s, serving Italian cuisine
      • Hard Rock Café, a theme restaurant
      • Gallaghers Steakhouse, offering classic cuts of meat
      • Blue Fin, upscale pre-theater seafood and sushi served in a trendy glass-enclosed bar
      • Tony’s Di Napoli, a bustling eatery, which serves big, shareable portions of Italian food
      • Butter Midtown, a diverse American menu and craft cocktails served in a communal space with a long bar
      • Pasta Lovers Trattoria, large portions of pasta with a variety of sauces, pizzas, and panini
  • A large number of financial, publishing, and media firms have set up headquarters in the area.
  • A larger presence of police has increased the safety of the area.
  • In 1990, the Times Square district’s total transformation went from being a national symbol of urban decadence and seediness to a center of corporate consumerism that now draws families and tourists to its many attractions.
  • The resurgence in the 1990s of Times Square with the introduction of large tourist-friendly stores, restaurants, and theatres was credited to then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the investment of the Disney Company.