times-square-nycTimes Square, one of New York City’s premier tourist destinations, is located on a major intersection in Midtown Manhattan–at the junction of Broadway and 27th Street and from West 42nd Street to West 47th Street. It occupies the blocks between 6th and 8th Avenues from east to west, and West 40th and West 53rd Streets from north to south. Times Square was “christened” in 1904; not coincidentally, so were neon lights and the city’s first subway line. New Yorkers wasted no time in starting the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration tradition: they began ringing in the new year at Times Square in 1904 as well.

Previously, the area that has been called “Times Square” for over 100 years was known as The Longacre. On April 8, 1904, the name was changed to Times Square to commemorate the official opening of the brand new New York Times Building located on the triangle of land at the intersection of Broadway, 42nd Street, and 7th Avenue. The building was the tallest in Manhattan at the time. In 1913, the New York Times moved to a larger facility across Broadway and the New York Times Building was renamed the Allied Chemical Building. Today, it is known simply as One Times Square.

During the First World War, Broadway became known as one of the world’s premier theatre districts. The Great Depression hit New York City hard, and many theatres had to close or offer less discriminating fare to attract more theatre-goers. Thus began a slow decline that reached its lowest point in the 1960s and 1970s. At this time, Times Square had become (in)famous for erotic bookstores, live nude shows, X-rated movies, and other adult fare. By 1975, many people considered Times Square to be the epitome of urban and moral decay.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, city and state officials began serious efforts to reverse the decline of Times Square. Today, Times Square has been restored to its former glory and boasts over 27,000 residents and over 26 million visitors each year, and makes a serious contribution to New York City’s economy—the annual total output is comparable to the economies of Bolivia and Panama, and far exceeds that of small countries.

New Year’s Eve at Times Square is now a global tradition. Approximately 1 million people gather there each year; additionally, millions across the United States and about 1 billion people all over the world tune into the New Year’s Eve celebration. The famous ball (currently made of Waterford Crystal) drops from One Times Square, a tradition that began on December 31, 1907 and has continued ever since, except during World War Two when a moment of silence was observed followed by the tolling of church bells, as the blackout restrictions prevented excessive New Year’s Eve festivities.

Times Square has cemented its place in American popular culture. It has been featured in movies such as Vanilla Sky, King Kong, and Spider-Man. ABC’s Good Morning America and MTV’s Total Request Live are broadcast live from their studios at Times Square. Additionally, many exclusive, popular, and specialty retailers and restaurants have locations at Times Square, such as the Hard Rock Café, Virgin Records, Toys R Us, ESPN Zone, Sketchers, Planet Hollywood, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, Ruby Foo’s, and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Today’s Times Square is a perfect family destination.