Times Square is a noteworthy commercial intersection and neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, and extending from West 42nd to West 47th Streets. Brilliantly enhanced with boards and advertisements, Times Square is widely alluded to as The Center of the Universe. One of the world's busiest pedestrian crossing points, it is also the center point of the Broadway Theater District and a noteworthy focus of the world's entertainment industry. Times Square is one of the world's most sought after vacation destinations, drawing an expected fifty million guests every year. Roughly 330,000 individuals make their way through Times Square every day, a majority of them tourists.
With dozens of attractions to choose from, and an assortment of activities for groups of all sizes, it’s easy to get lost in the chaos that present in this midtown tourist area. Let’s take breath to smell the roses and look at some of the historical buildings that make up Times Square.
One Times Square - The Times Tower
The 25 story skyscraper was originally built to serve as the headquarters for the local newspaper, The New York Times. The Times moved into a new location less than ten years later, and the building itself is all but empty, aside from a Walgreens pharmacy which occupies the building's lower levels, but it remains one of the most valuable advertising locations in the world, beating out London’s Piccadilly Circus as the most valuable public advertising space in the world. It is also widely known as the location of the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop.
The New York Times officially moved into the building in 1905, and to promote the location of the new headquarters The Times hosted a New Year’s Eve Event, December 31, 1903, ringing in the new year with a fireworks display that attracted 200,000 spectators, and continued annually until 1907. For the 1908 celebration, the fireworks display was replaced with an even more spectacular event, the lowering of a lit ball down the building’s flagpole at midnight, a tradition that continues to this day and attracts nearly one billion viewers throughout the world through extensive television coverage. The event is managed and owned by Countdown Entertainment, and it meticulously planned all year round.
An Electronic news ticker known as the Motograph News Bulletin (the zipper) was introduced near the base of the building, allowing news headlines to be displayed in 1928. The first headline to ever be displayed on the zipper announced Herbert Hoover's victory in the day’s presidential elections. Other important events, such as Japan’s surrender from WWII were also displayed on the projector. It has since been taken over by the Dow Jones.
1501 Broadway - The Paramount Building
This 33 story, 391 foot giant rests in the heart of Times Square and was previously home to the Paramount Theater. Originally opening November 19, 1926 with the premier of God Gave Me 20 Cents. The theater boasted one of the largest and most impressive theater organs ever created by the Wurlitzer company, and designed for the famous organist Jesse Crawford who was their principal organist until 1933. The organ weighed a total of 33 tons, and was used to accompany silent films.
The Paramount was also host to a variety of live music shows, during the start of the swing era, bringing in such acts as the Andrews Sisters, Harry James, Bill Kennedy, Glenn Miller, and the use of the Paramount theater being used for big bands was immortalized by Barry Manilow’s song “Singin With the Big Bands.”
The theater closed on August 4, 1964, with the last showing being the The Carpetbagger. The theater was demolished shortly after, and the pipe organ was moved to the Century II Convention Hall in Wichita, Kansas where it is still in use. The theater has been used to house The New York Times, as well hosting The World (WWE) restaurant, and the Hard Rock Cafe.
This 34 story skyscraper is home to Good Morning America as well as Times Square Studios since 1985. It features a seven story Nasdaq ticker tape display that wraps around the building. This building occupies an entire blockfront on the east side of Broadway, and includes 500,000 square feet of office and retail space. With a rich tenant list, such as ABC Studios, Disney, Nasdaq, Starbucks, and Essence Magazine, it’s safe to say this building is home to some key players in the corporate market.
432 W44 Actors Studio
This neoclassical former chapel is host to The Actors Studio, a membership organization for professional actors, theatre directors and playwrights. Found in October 1947, organizers Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford, Robert Lewis, Anna Sokolow provided training and support for actors who were members. It is currently run by Al Pacino, Ellen Burstyn, and Harvey Keitel. The Actors Studio is best known for its work refining and teaching method acting, which is a set of techniques actors use to create in themselves the thoughts and feelings of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances. Many notable actors have been through the program, including Alec Baldwin, Sally Field, Kevin Spacey, Robert Duvall, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Jack Nicholson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Anthony Hopkins.
The Westin Hotel
This post modern building has been controversial since its conception, given that it’s--well, kind of an eye sore. To put it kindly, many people find it to be ugly. It’s the first major hotel to open since the Four Seasons in 1993, and in surrendering refinement, Arquitectonica (an architectural firm based out of Miami) has managed to create a kind of urban poetry that’s fit for the outsider. Like it or not, the building signifies a drastic shift in the history of taste.
Far from the Northern European framework we are used to seeing in the New York City skyline, The Westin Hotel is the first of many cosmetic swings between modernism and tradition, and with all the hustle and bustle going about throughout Times Square, this hotel stands out.
205 W46 - Lunt-Fontaine Theater
Built in 1910 as the Globe Theater in honor of London’s Shakespearean playhouse, the theater held its first premier with a musical titled The Old Town. Most of the Globe’s early shows were dramatic plays. In the later part of the decade and decades to follow, the primary focus shifted to musical theater. The original design of the theater was revolutionary in that it called for the ceiling and roof 20 feet above it to roll back to reveal starlight and keep the theater cool in the summer. No other Broadway theater had such a design.
The theater was converted into a movie house in the 1930’s, and was operated by the Brandt Chain. Major renovations and several people have owned the theater since then, and the theater has hosted several notable titles such as, The Sounds of Music, Hello, Dolly! Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Beatlemania, and most recently Finding Neverland.
Shubert Alley is a narrow, 300 foot long pedestrian alley at the heart of the Broadway Theater District. Given its location, Richard Hornby once wrote “in New York, the desirability of a theatre is inversely proportional to its distance from Shubert Alley.”
The alley began as a fire exit between the Shubert theater and the Booth theater and the Astor Hotel. The alleyway was named after owners, Lee and Jacob Shubert, as they were New York’s most powerful theater owners and producers at the time.
At one point in time, during the Great Depression, the alley was divided by a fence. One side was used by a New Jersey bus line as a terminal. The other side served as egress for stage doors from the two surrounding theaters. It has since become a smart lane of elegant shops, and holds the world record for World’s Largest Coconut Orchestra, as 1789 people clapped coconut shells together in Shubert Alley.
998 Eighth Ave - Hearst Tower
Home to the world headquarters of the Hearst Corporation, we see a numerous number of communications and publication companies under this roof, including Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, and Seventeen. The six story base of the building had finished undergoing construction in 1928. Construction to expand the building into a skyscraper halted during the great depression, and finished 80 years later in June 2006, the first skyscraper to break ground after September 11, 2001.
Hearst Tower is the first "green" high-rise office building completed in New York City, with a number of environmental considerations built into the plan, including heat conductive limestone, a way to collect natural rain water and cool and circulate water in the basement. The building is also made out of 85% recyclable materials. It was the first skyscraper in New York to be granted a LEED Gold Skyscraper award.
The New York Times Building
This skyscraper, completed in 2007, is home to publishing giants, The New York Times. Because of the company’s extensive growth, it has moved several times since 1851. The new building has been promoted as a green structure, with many environmentally sustainable features for increased energy efficiency. Many of these structural procedures have made it possible to cut heat and energy usage by more than 50%.
The building has seen its fair share of illegal climbing activity. In the summer of 2008, 3 men (none of which who were associated with each other) decided to scale the external facade of the building. Alain Robert, dubbed “The French Spiderman,” blimed the north side of the building, making it all the way up to the roof, attaching a sign to the building that said “global warming kills more people than a 9/11 every week.” Renaldo Clarke, a Brooklyn resident was arrested later that evening after his ascent, and was caught wearing a “Malaria No More” tee shirt. A few days later, David Malone also climbed the building in protest, attributing his ascent to “protesting Al Qaeda’s ‘crusader baiting’ and ‘intentional provocation of the US.”
The Ed Sullivan Theater
The Ed Sullivan Theater is a beloved radio and television in studio in New York City and has been used a s a venue for live and taped CBS Broadcasts since 1936. It has been used, historically, s the site of the first U.S. Beatles performance, as well as being host to The Ed Sullivan Show, and The Late Show series under David Letterman, soon to be taken over by Stephen Colbert.
The building was constructed by Arthur Hammerstein and was named Hammerstein's Theatre after his father, Oscar Hammerstein. After going bankrupt, he lost ownership of the building in 1931. Presently it is owned largely by CBS. Several rooftop concerts have been held, featuring a variety of musicians including Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Paul McCartney, Eminem, and Jay Z.