Times Square in New York City

Considered one of the world's busiest pedestrian areas with an estimated 50 million annual visitors, New York City's Times Square is one of the most trafficked tourist attractions in the world.

This Big Apple famous destination is Midtown Manhattan's central entertainment hub and commercial intersection. At the convergence of Broadway, 42nd Street, and Seventh Avenue, Times Square features over 100 stores, bars, restaurants. Along with a major Broadway Theater District.

The iconic neighborhood hosts nearly 360,000 visitors each day and the dazzling Times Square lights can be seen from outer space!

With glowing billboard signs of advertisements that never dim, Times Square more closely resembles a bow tie than an actual square and is sometimes referred to as the “Crossroads of the World,” the “Center of the Universe,” the "Great White Way," and the “Heart of the World.”

Photo Alert:  Superheroes abound! Superman, Hulk, Spider-Man, Darth Vader, and Captain America are all willing to take a snapshot with you, but the new rule is, if you take a picture with a famous character, you have to tip! ($2 to $3 per character.)

Times Square Ball Drop

The cultural confluence of New York City is ever-shifting, but some things never change. The annual New Year's Eve ball-dropping celebration has delighted audiences for over a century. Every New Year’s Eve since 1907, 1 Times Square Plaza has been the site for the infamous tradition. Attracting over a million visitors every year.

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At its inception, city planners lowered the globe, with over 100 light bulbs, from the top of a flagpole. Today the legendary ball weighs nearly six tons and is illuminated by 32,256 LEDs.

Fun Fact: Did you know the tons of confetti that pour down on the crowd when the clock strikes midnight, aren't just tiny colored papers? They're well wishes from people across the globe. Visit the Wishing Wall at the Broadway Plaza between 42nd and 43rd Street to write your official New Year’s wish!

Time Square’s neon lights and billboards never turn off. The Mega Screen, or “Broadway Spectacular,” is five stories above street level in the heart of Times Square Plaza. The Screen is located directly across from the iconic NASDAQ, MarketSite, marking the presence of the Nasdaq stock market. The cost for advertising in the area is up to $4 million a year.

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Theater District

Close up photo of Elphaba from WICKED The Musical on Broadway in NYC, New York, USA

photo credit: WICKED The Musical via Facebook

NYC’s most famous landmark is the liveliest area in the city that never sleeps. Best known for its Theater District, Times Square is the world’s entertainment capital with 39 beautiful Broadway theaters. The District stretches from West 40th Street to West 53rd Street between 8th and 6th Avenue. New York's Broadway shows attract 13 million spectators annually.

Pro Tip: You can take a “Broadway Up Close” walking tour through the district. The tour, led by actors and Broadway stage crews, provides an in-depth behind the scene take on The Great White Way. Join the "Broadway’s Beginning” tours every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday at 11:00 a.m.

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The Theater District includes movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, recording studios, record label offices, and television studios. Visitors can also find famed sites like Duffy Square, Shubert Alley, the Brill Building, Madame Tussauds New York, and a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium.

Fun Fact: Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running Broadway show (33 years), The Lion King is the highest-grossing ($1 billion), and Hamilton has won the most Tony Awards (11) of any Broadway show.

Times Square History

The Square got its famous name in 1904 when The New York Times took up residence in one of the local buildings. The Times moved out of the building eight years later. The mayor of New York renamed what was once “Longacre Square” after the paper. Times Square is considered the Eastern Terminus of the Lincoln Highway, or the first road across the United States.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Times Square was considered the strip of ill-repute with X-rated movies, drug dealers and peep shows. The crime rate increased by twenty percent with serious rape and murder felonies. It wasn’t until the late 1980s theater producer Joseph Papp began a campaign to “Save the Theaters.” His efforts introduced a bill to designate the area a national historic site, and though bill didn’t pass, the area received funding and reclassification as a “Theater Subdistrict.”

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Mayor Rudy Giuliani began a cleanup initiative that banned adult entertainment in certain business districts, including Times Square. Additionally, 25 Broadway theaters were designated New York City landmarks. The result was a tourist boom for the city with 131 million visitors annually.

Fun Fact: Today Times Square uses 161 megawatts of electricity every year, enough to power all Las Vegas casinos.

 5 Things You May Not Know about Times Square

  • The Iconic Sailors Kiss Photo: When the Japanese surrendered to the United States on August 14, 1945, Times Square erupted in revelry, marking an end to the Second World War. Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captured the famed shot of a sailor kissing a nurse. LIFE magazine published the image that became one of the most famous WWII photographs in history. A search for the mysterious couple’s identity lasted over twenty years. Two authors even wrote a book about the photo and finally uncovered the 67-year-old mystery. The sailor and nurse were strangers and later reunited in Times Square in August 2012.
  • The Hidden Sound Art: Between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, a hidden sound installation under the subway, has been amazing visitor since 1977. The sound artist, Max Neuhaus, created a percussion sound that plays when passersby walk over the subway ventilation grate.
  • The R Lounge: At 2 Times Square, the R Lounge stands at 26 stories high and overlooks Times Square, offering the most stunning view of the legendary neighborhood.

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Pro Tip: Manhattan cocktails can be pricy, but there’s a hidden gem along Times Square where you can order a $3 pint! Jimmy’s Corner, founded by boxing trainer Jimmy Glenn in 1971, keeps his drinks cheap and his jukebox playing at all hours!

  • The Midnight Moment: Every night at 11:57 p.m., the Times Square screens shut down to highlight an artist's work for three minutes. It’s called the Midnight Moment.
  • Sake Bar Hagi: The hidden, unmarked sushi bar features a trendy ambiance and delicious sushi. It’s not packed with tourists and is hardly ever crowded (a rarity in Manhattan)!

To make the most of your Times Square experience, check the website for events and promotions. Follow Times Square NYC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what’s trending with the Crossroads of the World!

close up of Erin smiling on a sunny day

Written By Erin

Erin Poche` is a Utah-based writer and editor for Tripster and contributing writer for BeyondType1. She also writes and edits for an indie publisher of fanta ...

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