Most New Yorkers see it every day on the way to and from work. Tourists flock from all over the world to take pictures of themselves standing in it. No, we're not talking about Waterpark City condos, though they are nice. We're talking about New York City's Times Square. If you're planning a trip to New York or have just moved there, a trip to this famous landmark should be at the top of your "to do" list.
History and Background
Times Square is actually a working intersection in midtown Manhattan. Originally known as Longacre Square, it was renamed in 1904 after the Times Building, which still exists. It is sometimes known as the Crossroads of the World because it is the easternmost point on the first highway to stretch all the way across the United States. From the 1960s to the 1990s, the area was known for adult entertainment, but redevelopment has turned it into a center for commerce, shopping, and enormous lighted billboards that decorate with words chosen by advertisers. It appears in many popular movies and TV shows as an iconic NYC setting.
Corporations and Buildings
Times Square is a huge moneymaker for New York City, and not just because of the tourists. Actual commerce goes on here during business hours. You might see an employee of Event Planner Toronto buzzing past on her way to an event at Morgan Stanley. Fans gathering outside the windows of MTV studios for a look at the VJs. Or even Good Morning America, which is also filmed in Times Square. Other companies with operations in the square include Ban kof America, Reuters news agency, the Doubletree, Renaissance, Sheraton, and Marriot hotels, and NASDAQ.
Shops and Tourist Attractions
Shops selling everything from day spa gifts to souvenirs are the most popular draw for tourists. The area is extremely kid-friendly. There's a Toys R'Us, a Hershey's Chocolate store, an M&Ms Chocolate store, and a massive Virgin Megastore. It's also a great place to eat, with famous franchises like TGI Fridays, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Planet Hollywood, and Hard Rock Cafe overlooking the square. Other interesting things to note include the discount theater tickets booth and the Naked Cowboy, a popular street performer.
The most famous special event is, of course, the annual New Year's Eve ball drop. In operation since 1907, the event coincides with New Year's Rockin' Eve, an ABC special. Over 1 million people attend to see concerts from famous bands and count down as the New Year is marked by a lit Waterford crystal ball descending a pole to a rooftop. Since it's outside on the street, it's accessible to those who require barrier free living. Other special events occur on Valentine's Day and Halloween.