The Idea: The Great White Way
The Aspect: Everything Happens Here
The Face(s): Britney (Entertainer/Hot Dog Vendor)
Times Square is a major commercial intersection in Midtown Manhattan, at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue and stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. Times Square, iconified as “The Crossroads of the World” and the “The Great White Way”, is the brightly illuminated hub of the Broadway theater district, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections, and a major center of the world’s entertainment industry. According to Travel + Leisure magazine’s October 2011 survey, Times Square is the world’s most visited tourist attraction, bringing in over 39 million visitors annually.
Formerly named Longacre Square, Times Square was renamed in April 1904 after The New York Times moved its headquarters to the newly erected Times Building, which is now called One Times Square and is the site of the annual ball drop on New Year’s Eve.
The northern triangle of Times Square is technically Duffy Square, dedicated in 1937 to Chaplain Francis P. Duffy of New York City’s “Fighting 69th” Infantry Regiment; a memorial to Duffy is located there, along with a statue of George M. Cohan, and the TKTS discount theatre tickets booth. The stepped red roof of the TKTS booth also provides seating for various events. The Duffy Statue and the square were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.
The theaters of Broadway and the huge number of animated neon and LED signs have long made them one of New York’s iconic images, and a symbol of the intensely urban aspects of Manhattan. Times Square is the only neighborhood with zoning ordinances requiring building owners to display illuminated signs. The density of illuminated signs in Times Square now rivals that of Las Vegas.
Notable signage includes the Toshiba billboard directly under the NYE ball drop and the curved seven-story NASDAQ sign at the NASDAQ MarketSite at 4 Times Square on 43rd Street and the curved Coca-Cola sign located underneath another large LED display owned and operated by Samsung. Both the Coca-Cola sign and Samsung LED displays were built by LED display manufacturer Daktronics. Times Square’s first environmentally friendly billboard powered by wind and solar energy was first lit on December 4, 2008.
Times Square now boasts attractions such as ABC’s Times Square Studios, where Good Morning America is broadcast live, an elaborate Toys “Я” Us store, and competing Hershey’s and M&M’s stores across the street from each other, as well as restaurants such as Ruby Foo’s (Chinese food), the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (seafood), Planet Hollywood Restaurant and Bar (theme restaurant) and Carmine’s (Italian) along with a number of multiplex movie theaters. It has also attracted a number of large financial, publishing, and media firms to set up headquarters in the area. A larger presence of police has improved the safety of the area
On February 26, 2009, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that traffic lanes along Broadway from 42nd Street to 47th Street would be de-mapped starting Memorial Day 2009 and transformed into pedestrian plazas until at least the end of the year as a trial. The same was done from 33rd to 35th Street. The goal was to ease traffic congestion throughout the Midtown grid. The results were to be closely monitored to determine if the project worked and should be extended. Bloomberg also stated that he believed the street shutdown would make New York more livable by reducing pollution, cutting down on pedestrian accidents and helping traffic flow more smoothly.
A permanent fixture in Times Square, is Britney’s Hot Dogs. The stand, located directly behind the TKTS Booth and to the Right of the George M. Cohan Statue, was established in late, 1999, shortly after the pop singer, Britney Spears, hit the charts. The owner, simply known as Britney, is a spitting image of the singer, and is renowned throughout the city for the best Hot Dogs and Pretzels in NY, as well as her hourly performances of her doppleganger’s hits, perfectly mimicking every intonation, word, and dance move. People come from all over the world for the food from Britney’s stand, as well as for her show. Others come to Britney for information, for she seemingly knows everything about what occurs in and around Times Square