Times Square is located in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. It is situated at the junction of Seventh Avenue and Broadway, where a new pedestrian plaza has been constructed. Additionally, it stretches from West 42nd Street to West 47th Street. Times Square makes up a neighborhood as well as a commercial intersection. It has been dubbed “The Great White Way” and “The Center of the Universe,” due to its bright illumination.
The Broadway Theatre District is considered to be one of the main centers of the entertainment industry. As well, it is one of the busiest pedestrian intersections around. The October 2011 Survey in Travel and Leisure Magazine stated that Times Square hosts over 39 million visitors every year and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world. On a daily basis, approximately 330,000 people pass through Times Square. Many of these are people working in the area or are tourists.
Times Square was formerly known as Longacre Square. It was renamed in April 1904 once the New York Times transferred its headquarters to the newly built Times Building, which now goes by the name One Times Square. This is the location of the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop. The tradition started on December 31, 1907 and still continues to be celebrated with much fanfare to this day. It attracts thousands of people to the Square every New Year’s Eve.
Duffy Square is technically the northern triangle. This location was dedicated to Chaplin Francis P. Duffy in 1937 of New York City’s “Fighting 69th” Infantry Regiment. There is a memorial to Duffy there, as well as a statue of George M. Cohan. Also in the vicinity is the TKTS discount theatre tickets booth. In 2001, the Duffy Square and statue were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An interesting note is that the stepped design red roof of the TKTS booth provides seating for a variety of events.
More than 360,000 pedestrian visitors come through Times Square every day. This equates to more than 131 million every year, making it the number one visited place on the globe. It actually accounts for greater attendance than all of the Disney theme parks in the world. Between March 2012 and February 2013 there were 128,794,000 visitors as compared to 126,479,000 for Walt Disney World attractions in 2012.
If simply counting tourists instead of residents, Times Square rates as the 2nd tourist attraction in the world after the Las Vegas Strip. This astronomical amount of traffic works out to $4.8 billion in annual retail, hotel and entertainment sales. Approximately $0.22 out of each dollar spent by visitors in New York City is being spent within Times Square.
The annual New Year’s Eve ball drop happens every year right in Times Square. On December 31, 1907, a ball was initially dropped to signify the New Year’s Day celebration. Since then, the square has been dedicated to holding the main celebration of New York City there ever since. Thousands of people come together on that night in order to witness the Waterford Crystal ball being lowered on a pole from on top of the building. This announces the start of the New Year. From 1904 to 1906, a lavish fireworks display used to be the show, until the ball drop replaced it. The city officials stopped the grand fireworks celebration due to the danger of fire.
Starting in 1908 and for over 80 years afterwards, Artkraft Strauss, the Times Square sign maker was responsible for lowering the ball. Due to wartime blackout restrictions during World War II, a minute of silence, followed by a recording of church bells replaced the ball drop ceremony. Currently, One Times Square and Countdown Entertainment run the New Year’s Eve event along with the Times Square Alliance.
Approximately 1 million revelers crowd Times Square on average for the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Statistics state that during the millennium celebration held on December 31, 1999, roughly 2 million people overflowed Times Square. They spread out from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue, as well as back on Broadway and Seventh Avenues to 59th Street. This made it the largest gathering in Times Square since the celebrations marking the end of World War II in August 1945.