Times Square, also known as The Crossroads of the World, The Center of the Universe, and the heart of The Great White Way, sits at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, stretching five blocks from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. Times Square is most famous as the hub of the Broadway Theater District. As one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in the world, with approximately 360,000 locals and tourists passing through Times Square daily, and more than 131 million yearly, the intersection is home to some of the most brightly lit and advanced video billboards and advertisements. Times Square currently receives more visitors than all the Disney theme parks worldwide.
Before The New York Times moved into the Times Building in 1904 the space was known as Longacre Square. The first annual New Year’s ball dropped from the top of the Times Building on December 31st, 1907 with more than a million visitors at modern New Year’s Eve events. The northern section of Times Square is known as Duffy Square, dedicated in 1937 to Chaplain Francis P. Duffy, featuring a statue of George M. Cohan.
The history of Times Square begins with the settling of the island of Manhattan by the Dutch. It came under the ownership of John Morin Scott around the time of the American Revolution. Scott was a general of the New York militia and served who George Washington. By the first half of the 19th century, the land came under the ownership of John Jacob Astor. Astor was able amass a fortune, which amounted to approximately 1/107 of the gross-nation-product of the United States at the time of his death in 1848, as a result of selling lots to hotels during the city’s early rapid expansion.
Around 1872 the area of Times Square became a hub for the carriage industry in New York, earning it’s title of Longacre Square after Long Acre in London, where the British city’s own carriage industry was centered. During this time the area was under the ownership of William Henry Vanderbilt. The period at the start of the second half of the 19th century earned Times Square the nickname of the Thieves Lair for its reputation as a low entertainment district, though by the 1890’s it had become “thronged by crowds of middle- and upper-class theatre, restaurant and café patrons.” (Burrows and Wallace 1999:1149)
When The New York Times was moved by published Adolph S. Ochs to the Times Building in 1904, the area was finally renamed on April 8th, 1904. It was during this time the subway station below Times Square was built.
By the middle and late 20th century, Times Square begin to fall back into its former reputation of the Thieves Lair as crime and violence increased in prevalence. In recent years, improvements in smoking bans, and focus on pedestrian improvements. The latest of those improvements, the Times Square Pedestrian plaza’s first section was completed by December 2013 with the final stages set to finish by the end of 2015.