When visiting New York City, there is no way you can forego Times Square at Midtown Manhattan. Times Square is the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, and I am sure you have seen it both on TV and in several movies; this is where the ball drops every New Year’s Eve. This commercial intersection is brightly adorned with billboards and advertisements, and if you have money to spend, you can spend it quickly here in the many shops, theatres and restaurants. It is one of the world’s busiest pedestrian crossings, but does not hold a candle to the Big Scramble (Shibuya Crossing) in Tokyo. (I have posted two videos from the Big Scramble in Tokyo here, but that post was written in Norwegian, so you might want to scroll down to the videos if you cannot read Norwegian.)
If you are into the cultural stuff, you might want to catch a play or a show at one of the many theatres on Broadway. We were just a couple of days too late to catch George Takei’s musical “Allegiance”, which was the only musical we really wanted to see.
The junction was named Longacre Square until 1904 when it was renamed because The New York Times moved its headquarters to the newly erected Times Building. Before and after the American Revolution, the owner, John Morin Scott, a General of the New York militia, owned and farmed the area and used it for horse breeding. His manor house was at what is currently 43rd Street. In the first half of the 19th century, John Jacob Astor owned the land, and made a fortune selling off lots to hotels and other real estate concerns as the city rapidly grew north.
In the 1930’s Times Square acquired a reputation as a dangerous neighborhood, a rep that would last into the early 1990s, due to its go-go bars, sex shops, peeps shows and adult theatres. Crime rates were high, and police morale was low. In the mid-1990s Mayor Rudy Giuliani led an effort to clean up the area; security was increased, pornographic theatres were closed, and “undesirable” renters were pressured to relocate. Rudy Giuliani was known to be “tough on crime” and is widely credited for major improvements in the city’s quality of life and rates of violent crimes. Still I did get the impression that he was not very well liked by the New Yawkers.
One of Times Square’s nicknames is “The Center of the Universe”, and that is understandable knowing that approximately 330.000 people pass through Times Square daily. Even though Times Square is not the center of my universe, I still highly recommend a visit here. It is a fun place for sure.