Times Square at night
Neon signs, taxi cabs and billboards
(Photos/words © urban75, Dec 2007)
Located at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets, Times Square is
a major tourist attraction in the commercial area of Midtown Manhattan.
Although it has as much charm as Leicester Square in London (i.e. very little) it is a spectacular place to walk through, particular at night with the neon advertising at full blast.
Formerly known as Longacre Square, Times Square was renamed after the Times Building which used to host the offices of The New York Times.
The building is now known as 'One Times Square' and has the famous 'ball' on its roof which drops down on the stroke of the New Year.
As New York grew, Times Square developed into a major cultural hang out, with theatres, music halls, and upmarket hotels springing up. It also became the place where people would head off to for mass celebrations.
In the 1910s and 1920s the area became known as 'The Tenderloin' because it was said to be the most desirable location in Manhattan, but a dark underbelly of the, err, Tenderloin with growing crime, corruption, gambling and prostitution (sounds a bit like Brixton today).
Come the Great Depression of the 1930s, the area spiralled downhill, rapidly growing a well earned reputation as a dangerous neighbourhood.
By the 60s, Times Square was about as seedy as you could get, stuffed full of fleapit porn cinemas, hawkers, hustlers and ne'er do wells.
The character of the area changed considerably in the mid-1990s when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani led a mission to clear up the area, closing down the porno theatres and driving the drug dealers, streets hustlers, muggers and 'squeegee men.'
With tourist-friendly attractions, 'nice' stores and and upscale establishments replacing the grime, the once-dangerous neighbourhood was now safe for camera-toting, burger buying, bright shirted visitors to spend their money.
Although not many people would like the place to return to its mid-80s grubbiness, some New Yorkers have complained that the new sanitised version has 'Disneyfied' the area into a bland and soulless tourist trap.
The cleaned up Times Square now boasts a feast of corporate big brands, such as Toys 'R' Us, Virgin Records, Hershey's, Planet Hollywood Restaurant and a number of multiplex movie theatres.
'Good Morning America' is also broadcast live from ABC's Times Square Studios.
It has to be said that walking through Times Square at night is an exciting experience.
We definitely don't recommend hanging out there for the day, but it's well worth a stroll though.
More photos: Times Square at dusk, December 2006
Times Square streaming webcam
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