Have you ever wondered why Times Square is such an iconic symbol of New York? How it came to be known as “The Crossroads of the World” and the “Great White Way?” Perhaps we can shed some light on at least a little bit of why this simple intersection of Broadway, Seventh Avenue and 42nd Streets in Manhattan has taken on the role of New York’s heart and soul.
Today Times Square draws more than 39 million visitors each year, making it one of the world’s busiest pedestrian intersections and one of the most visited tourist attractions anywhere. Visitors are drawn to the theater district which surrounds the area, which is also a major world center for the entertainment industry.
Before 1904 the intersection was called Longacre Square, but was renamed Times Square when the New York Times moved its headquarters to the brand new Times Building, whose address is One Times Square. This special piece of real estate is the site of the world-renowned ball drop of New Year’s Eve, which heralds the New Year for many across the world.
Times Square was not always as pedestrian and visitor friendly as it is today. During the 1910s and 20s the area came to be known as the “Tenderloin” District because it was considered one of the most desirable of New York’s residential neighborhoods. But during the Great Depression of the 30s the area came to be known as dangerous, and during the decades that followed Times Square continued a downward spiral and was no longer considered a decent place to go. From the 60s to the 90s Times Square became a sad symbol of the overall decline of the former pre-eminence of New York as a world cultural center.
Recovery began in earnest in the mid-1990s when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (1994-2002) began an all-out effort to bring the area back to its former glory. Included in those efforts was improving the neighborhood’s security, pushing out drug dealers and other undesirable elements from the area, opening more attractions geared to tourists, and adding more ‘upscale’ establishments.
If you are staying at Shimmie Horn’s Iroquois Hotel then you are in a perfect place to check out exciting, inviting and sparkling Times Square, just a few blocks away at 49 West 44th Street.