The World

Whereas a generation of Americans and New Yorkers once went to New York’s Times Square to get the news, this Saturday throngs of New Yorkers and tourists alike were rushed from the area as Times Square had become the news. We take a look at the history behind the iconic intersection.

Originally dubbed Longacre Square, the district underwent a name change after The New York Times moved its operations to a skyscraper on 42nd Street. At the insistence and persuasion of the New York Times’ publisher Adolph Ochs, Mayor George McClellan changed the name in 1904. Three weeks later, the first electrified advertisement appeared on the side of a bank at 46th and Broadway.

In recent history, Times Square was noted for its bright lights and, of course, its seedy underbelly. And while the dangerous and labyrinthine Times Square of that New York is largely gone, even today it is possible to take walking tours of the jazz and smoke filled Square that entranced the likes of the real life Beats or J.D. Salinger’s fictional Holden Caulfield.

Now, Times Square is best known for its fluorescent advertisements, annual parades, and of course the world famous New Year’s celebration, which dates back to 1907.

What effect Saturday’s bomb scare will have on the future of Times Square is still unclear. What remains intact is the history and legacy of the nation’s busiest intersections.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.