“The Center of the Universe”, “The Crossroads of the World” and “The Heart of the World ”- Yes, you guessed it right, we are talking about Times Square in New York City. One of the most famous tourist spots in the world, Times Square is visited by millions of people every year. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that it is the most anticipated place in New York City. Times Square has a high street persona about it that charms people from around the globe. With the brightly lit billboards at night and the busy hustle it gets every day, it is no wonder that this place is a commercial success.
Times Square is located between the West 42nd and the West 47th Streets. Unlike the name suggests, Times Square is closer to a shape of a bowtie with two triangles extending roughly from 45th Street. Every year, official events are arranged that attract many tourists who want to enjoy live the glam that Times Square offers.
Times Square – The Past
Formerly known as the Long Acre Square, Times Square was the American Horse Exchange for William H. Vanderbilt. In the late 1800s, it was surrounded by sad-looking apartments with no electricity. As electricity and transportation grew nationwide, this neighborhood also took a more pleasing appearance.
The Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) not only gave the citizens means of mobility but also gave innovative ideas to businessmen. One such conglomerate was Adolph S. Ochs, the owner and publisher of The New York Times. He saw an opportunity by eyeing the second tallest building in the city and decided to make it his new headquarters. By 1905, the Times moved to the said building, which lies between Broadway and Seventh Avenue and 42nd and 47th Streets.
This was the moment that changed the name of this busy neighborhood from Long Acre to Times Square forever. The Times’ headquarters are now known as One Times Square. Soon after this, the life around this once humble neighborhood changed forever. Ochs himself celebrated New Year’s Eve to commemorate the Times building, and ever since then, it has been an annual ritual to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a bang. For the next few decades, Times Square was going to be a hit
Of course, all good things must come to an end – at least hit rock bottom. A similar fate struck Time Square during the Great Depression of 1929. Many people went broke, which means that they no longer wanted expensive entertainment. The businesses which boomed once were on the edge of bankruptcy. Bustling theatres were turned into shady companies with a bad reputation.
By the late 1900s, the local government had had enough, and they took action against criminal activities. This was done to ensure the safety of a family-friendly neighborhood. World-famous Broadway also decided to drop The Lion King, which still plays today. All this was a welcome sight which turned out to be a makeover for Times Square.
What Makes Times Square Special?
So what is the big deal about this ever-famous Times Square? A single-word answer is that literally, everything is special about it. If you are planning to visit Times Square but are skeptical about where to start, look no further! We have compiled just the write list for you.
There is no way that one can take a step without seeing a billboard for a Broadway show. This is one of the most famous things to do in Times Square. There are a total of 41 theatres, and each one plays a different kind of entertainment.
Fun Fact: Broadway shows alone make more money than all the sports teams in America combined! This is definitely because so many people come to visit Times Square just to enjoy Broadway shows.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not
Ripley’s is a famous brand name among everything weird and odd. Robert Ripley was a traveler who would go everywhere and would collect everything that seems odd. The franchise has several attraction sites around the globe, but the one in Times Square is the largest. The “Ripley’s Experience” is said to be the horror and amazement after witnessing the weirdest stuff they have in store. This also makes it a place suitable for a mature audience.
They have more than 500 artifacts and mind-bending displays that are truly unique. They also have a thrilling experience called The Black Hole, which is an imitation of a place that does not follow space and time. Apart from an exhilarating experience like that, it also offers a horrifying display of tools of torture from the past in its Torture Chamber.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
This needs no formal introduction; everyone knows about the greatest wax museum on the face of the Earth! The trend started with a French woman, Marie Tussaud, who was enthusiastic about creating life-size sculptures of people made from wax. Since then, many museums have dedicated themselves to display wax models of famous people.
Times Square wax museum is a five-story experience like no other. It features fun activities like a runway and sets of famous TV shows. Of course, you get to take free selfies with your favorite celebrities too.
M&M and Hershey’s Stores
This is a dream for every person with a sweet tooth. These heavenly stores offer all sorts of candies and in every shape and size. You can grab a candy with your name on it in 15 different colors from the M&M store. You will get lost in this three-story candy store.
Hershey’s Chocolate World is yet another magical experience that can’t be missed. They offer customized chocolate bars and s’mores to satisfy your sweet cravings.
A mini Disney-land, if you will, this store is a favorite among kids and adults alike. The store has all kinds of Disney products one can imagine. From toys to mini-figures and costumes, they have it all there under one roof. The ever-changing themes of the store make it a very pleasant sight among the others.
Times Square on a Budget
Just walking by Times Square is an experience in itself. The views, the huge billboards, and the artwork is a sight for sore eyes. Some billboards have camera implanted in them that allows you to see yourself on an actual Times Square billboard.
Times Square promotes art pieces that keep rotating throughout the square. These artworks can be very aesthetic and worth capturing on your phones. Another breathtaking view is from the top of TKTS Stairs on top of Times Square on 47th Street. It shows you a bird’s eye view of all the glitz happening down there.
New Year’s Eve
Nearly about a million people pack themselves in these five blocks of Times Square. The celebrations are like no other anywhere in the world. That is why it is not for weak-hearted people. What’s interesting is that it all starts as early as 8AM on December the 31st. You can easily understand that once you are there.
The Times Square Ball Drop starts at sharp 11:59 PM. Like a disco ball, a giant ball is slowly lowered, which marks New Year’s Eve. The event is officially followed by live performances and musical concerts.
Fun Facts about Time Square
- Times Square draws 50 million visitors a year, while around 340,000 people walk through Times Square every day.
- It prides itself on the largest celebration in history – on August the 14th, 1945, an estimated 2 million people gathered to celebrate the United States victory in World War II.
- By law, all the buildings in Times Square must have a minimum amount of display lighting. This is to maintain the glitz and glamor for which it is famous.
- A billboard can cost up to $500,000 a month for advertising.
- The area is smoke-free since 2011.
- You may find cowboys with guitars wearing nothing but briefs.
- The NASDAQ sign is 37 feet high, making it the largest LED sign in the world.
- The lights of Times Square can be seen from outer space.
- “The View” restaurant is the only revolving restaurant in the region with a full 360 degrees view.
Times Square – A Must Have in A Traveler’s Log
A place that provides fun just by walking through it, Times Square should be on every traveler’s must-visit list. Take a weekend off and enjoy the mesmerizing experience it offers. You’ll be surprised to know how much you can find on your own within these five blocks.