Times Square - History and Facts | History Hit

Times Square

New York, United States

Lily Johnson

03 Feb 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Times Square

Times Square is a major commercial area in New York City, famous for its vast electrical signs, bustling theatres and restaurants, and annual New Year’s celebrations.

Times Square history 

Before it was ‘Times Square’, the area on 42nd Street went by a number of different names. In the 1870s, the area was the centre of New York’s horse and carriage industry and was thus named Longacre Square, after London’s own horse and carriage centre, Long Acre. 

As theatres and red light activity were pushed northwards, Longacre Square became known as the ‘Thieves Lair’, and by the 1890s was buzzing with crowds of activity, electric lights and a number of restaurants.

In 1904, New York Times moved its headquarters to Longacre Square and the area was renamed Times Square. Three weeks later the first electrified advertisement appeared, a feature that would grow in the coming years to become Times Square’s most iconic characteristic.

Times Square has also long been considered a site for celebration. In 1907, Adolph Ochs, the owner of The Times, first held the New Year’s Eve ball drop, beginning a tradition of revelry that would continue well into the modern day.

On 8 May 1945, massive crowds celebrated Victory in Europe Day in Times Square, while on 15 August an unprecedented number gathered to celebrate Victory over Japan Day. 

Times Square today 

Today Times Square is one of the most recognisable places in the world owing to its vast expanses of electrified advertisements, officially called ‘spectaculars’ or ‘jumbotrons’, in the case of its largest signs. 

When standing in the centre, it is easy to be bowled over by the sheer light that surrounds you, and the amazing animations featured on the surrounding buildings. It is usually buzzing with visitors to its many restaurants and theatres, and infamously is occupied by a number of street performers. Of its nearby eateries, one to explore is Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a 1950s-themed restaurant infamous for its singing waitstaff.

Getting to Times Square

Times Square is situated in Midtown Manhattan. Its nearest subway stations are Times Sq-42 St, a 4-minute walk away, and 42 St-Bryant Pk, a 7-minute walk away. Its nearest bus station is 7 Av/W 44 St which is a 1-minute walk away.