New York Architecture Images- Midtown

times square short history- Signage, Hookers, Rise and Fall 



On April 8, 1904, officiated by Mayor George B. McClellan, the area known as Longacre Square was renamed Times Square following the arrival of The New York Times to the square. Times publisher Adolph S. Ochs had moved the paper's operations to a new tower on 42nd Street in the middle of the square. Ochs persuaded Mayor McClellan to build a subway stop there and rename it Times Square. Just three weeks later, the first advertisement appeared on the side of a bank at the corner of 46th Street and Broadway.

The Times moved out of the tower in 1913. Now known as 1 Times Square, the tower is the site of the annual New Year's Eve ball drop. On January 1, 1907, a ball signifying New Year's Day was first dropped at Times Square, and ever since the Square has been the site of the main New Year's celebration in New York City. On this night hundreds of thousands of people congregate to watch the Waterford crystal ball being lowered to the ground marking the new year.

Times Square quickly grew as a cultural hub full of theaters, music halls, and fancy hotels. "Times Square quickly became New York's agora, a place to gather both to await great tidings and to celebrate them, whether a World Series or a presidential election," writes James Traub in The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square. Names such as Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire, and Charlie Chaplin were closely associated with Times Square in the 1910s and 1920s.

The atmosphere changed with the onset of the Great Depression during the 1930s. Times Square became a neighborhood full of "peep shows", erotic all-night movie houses, and stores selling cheap tourist merchandise. It was considered a dangerous neighborhood by many. The seediness of Times Square was a famous symbol of New York City's danger and corruption during the period from the 1960s until the 1990s. Influential and dark films such as Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver had many scenes in Times Square.

In the mid-1990s, Mayor Rudy Giuliani (1994-2002) led the effort to clean up the area, including closing up sex shops, increasing security, and opening more tourist-friendly attractions. The cleaning process began when the local government issued an injunction against the tight clustering of the porn shops in the 42nd Street area. Many of the sex shops closed or moved to industrial areas in Brooklyn or Queens. More recently, such establishments have been shut down and more up-scale establishments have opened there.

Times Square today

The theaters of Broadway and the huge number of gaudy animated neon and television-style signage have long made it one of New York's iconic images, and a symbol of the intensely urban aspects of Manhattan. Times Square is the only neighborhood with a zoning ordinance requiring tenants to display bright signs.

NASDAQ MarketSite at night
NASDAQ MarketSite at night

One notable example is the NASDAQ sign at the NASDAQ MarketSite at 4 Times Square on 43rd Street. Unveiled in January 2000, it cost $37 million to build. The sign is 120 feet (36.6m) high and is the largest LED display in the world. NASDAQ pays over $2 million a year to lease the space for this sign. This is actually considered a good deal in advertising as the number of "impressions" the sign makes far exceeds those generated by other ad forms.

In 1998 the Times Square BID (Business Improvement District), a coalition of businesses dedicated to improving the quality of commerce and cleanliness in the district, started operations in the area. The density of illuminated signs in Times Square now rivals Las Vegas.

Times Square now boasts such stores as a Disney Store, a Warner Brothers Store, a major TV studio, as well as restaurants such as Ruby Foo's (Chinese food) and Lundy's (seafood) and a number of multiplex movie theaters. It is also attracting a number of financial institutions. A larger police presence in Times Square has improved the safety of the area. While the revitalized region is undoubtedly safer and more pleasant, some complain that the area has lost its spark and is now a thoroughly sanitized, "Disneyfied" version of itself—just another strip of franchised stores like anywhere else in the United States.

In 2002, NYC's outgoing mayor, Rudy Giuliani, gave the oath of office to the city's next mayor Michael Bloomberg in Times Square after midnight on January 1 as part of the New Year's celebration. In 2001, approximately 500,000 revelers attended the fete. Security was high following the September 11, 2001 attacks with over 7,000 New York City police on duty in the Square (twice the number for an ordinary year).


External links

Vintage postcard of the Times Building postmarked February 1909. From the collection of Alan Ladd.
THE NEW Times headquarters officially opened on New Year's Eve 1904. To celebrate the occasion, Ochs threw an all-day street party that concluded with a fireworks display set off from the base of the tower. Much to Hearst's anger and disappointment, the promotion proved so successful that Times Square immediately replaced City Hall Park as the favorite gathering site for New Yorkers to ring in the new year. By 1906 the crowds had grown so large that the Times, by now fully integrated into the new social and economic scene that had blossomed around its namesake square, began a holiday custom that soon became recognizable around the world as the official time and place America noted the arrival of the new year. To mark the annual occasion, Ochs arranged to have a large illuminated four-hundred-pound glass ball lowered from the tower flagpole precisely at midnight to signal the end of one year and the beginning of the next.

Legitimate theater impresarios now fell over one another to open new playhouses in a neighborhood that just a few years earlier none would go near, believing then that Long Acre would never be good for anything but crime, drugs, and prostitution. Before the arrival of the New York Times, the square had developed more of a carnival atmosphere than one conducive to a corporate alley. Not long after, dozens of prostitutes worked both sides of the Times Tower, resulting in relatively few new nonentertainment big-dollar investors relocating directly on 42nd Street.

Indeed, the business of sex dramatically increased its visibility on the city's newest and most popular main drag as its purveyors moved to compete for the newly available entertainment dollars by dressing up their street women and fashionably upscaling the houses they occupied. Onetime two-dollar streetwalkers now dressed in high style and proudly walked with umbrellas twirling on their shoulders in the midday sun. They could afford to spend money on clothes and accessories, as most worked two jobs, one as a prostitute and one as a showgirl at the many new dance halls built along the west side of the street-often referred to now as "Soubrette Row"—to accommodate the neighborhood's growing everyday populace. Five years into the new century 42nd Street became the showcase boulevard where merchants of the sunny side competed with hawkers of the shady to sell the workingman his ticket to get into, if not in on, the great American dream.

As for Abram Hewitt, whose original vision of a subway had led to the first great wave of commercial development on 42nd Street, historical anonymity was to be his fate. Hewitt never again enjoyed any widespread measure of public acceptance. Economic decline, meanwhile, eventually befell the New York publishing empire of William Hearst, whose sensationalist moral outrage he continued to vent in his papers. No longer just Jews but Democrats, union organizers, Wall Street speculators, bootleggers, and show business entrepreneurs all came before the loaded barrel of his editorial gun. Nevertheless, none of his publications was able to displace the stalwart New York Times as it became the city's, and the nation's, newspaper of record.

An excerpt from "Down 42nd Street: Sex, Money, Culture, and Politics
at the Crossroads of the World
by Marc Eliot



Ball Design by Waterford Crystal

The Ball is a geodesic sphere, six feet in diameter, and weighs approximately 1,070 pounds. The Ball is covered with a total of 504 Waterford crystal triangles that vary in size, and range in length from 4 ¾ inches to 5 ¾ inches per side. The 504 Waterford crystal triangles are bolted to 168 translucent triangular lexan panels which are attached to the aluminum frame of the Ball.

Ball Light Bulbs Developed by Philips Lighting Company

The exterior of the Ball is illuminated by 168 Philips Halogená Brilliant Crystal light bulbs, exclusively engineered for the New Year’s Eve Ball to enhance the Waterford crystal.
The interior of the Ball is illuminated by 432 Philips Light Bulbs (208 clear, 56 red, 56 blue, 56 green, and 56 yellow), and 96 high-intensity strobe lights, which together create bright bubbling bursts of color. The 696 lights and 90 rotating pyramid mirrors are computer controlled, enabling the Ball to produce a state-of-the-art light show of eye-dazzling colorful patterns and a spectacular kaleidoscope effect atop One Times Square


  • The first rooftop celebration atop One Times Square, complete with a fireworks display, took place in 1904. The New York Times produced this event to inaugurate its new headquarters in Times Square and celebrate the renaming of Longacre Square to Times Square.
  • The first Ball Lowering celebration atop One Times Square was held on December 31, 1907 and is now a worldwide symbol of the turn of the New Year, seen via satellite by more than one billion people each year.
  • In 1942 and 1943 the Ball Lowering was suspended due to the wartime dimout. The crowds who still gathered in Times Square celebrated with a minute of silence followed by chimes ringing out from an amplifier truck parked at One Times Square.
  • The original New Year's Eve Ball weighed 700 pounds and was 5 feet in diameter. It was made of iron and wood and was decorated with 100 25-watt light bulbs.
  • The New Year's Eve Ball is the property of the building owners of One Times Square.


some links-

A VRML-model of Times Square!!!

Planet 9
More VRML, including a model of New York City.

Recycling on Times Square
For the environmentally concerned.

The Joe Boxer Zipper
Send a message to Joe Boxer and it will be displayed on the Zipper!

Times Square Business Improvement District
The BID's own pages.

An article by Rem Koolhaas on 42nd Street.

42nd Street photos
Photos of 42nd Street "at its prime".

Disney Productions in Times Square
One of David Letterman's Top Ten lists.

Bayside Controls
Bayside Controls has made many of the famous illuminated signs on Times Square.

Jumbotron Ad
An animated GIF 'on' the Times Tower Jumbotron.


times square story II: architecture beyond broadway
Entertainment Design,  July, 2000  

As New and Renovated Theatres Continue to Spring Up on the Midtown Landscape, a Host of Themed Venues--From TV to Wall Street to Pro Wrestling--Are Also Contributing to the Amazing Transformation of 42nd Street and Times Square. ED Takes You on a Hardhat Tour.

Two years ago, when we did our Special Report on Times Square, the area was one big construction zone. Today, most of that construction is completed, but there's a whole new spate of construction going up. As a result, it's tougher than ever to get around Times Square these days. In addition to the massive construction sites, tourists of all shapes and sizes, increased office space, live TV broadcasts from MTV and ABC, and a healthy run of Broadway hits--all are contributing to the human gridlock that is midtown Manhattan. It would be easy to complain about all this--and believe us, it is very easy indeed when you've got three minutes until curtain at the Helen Hayes and there's a gaggle of Germans gawking at the Nasdaq sign on one side, a mass of squealing teenage girls hoping for a peek of Carson Daly on the other, and you're all completely surrounded by media types from Viacom and Conde Nast gabbing on cell phones about dinner reservations.

But those who do complain not only miss the point, they seem to have completely forgotten the way things used to be in that area between 42nd Street and Duffy Square commonly known as the Crossroads of the World. Back in 1990, when Cora Cahan and her startup staff of a new, non-profit organization called the New 42nd Street moved into rented quarters in the old McGraw-Hill Building, the area was just as crowded. But instead of tourists, teens, and business types, it was hookers, crackheads, sailors, drunks, predators, and hawkers of the tackiest souvenirs known to man. 42nd Street itself was one porn shop after another.

But following several challenging years of frustrating negotiations, the New 42nd Street officially started the surge of commercial development in the area when it renovated and reopened the New Victory Theatre in December 1995. Since then, the group leased five of the remaining six theatres under its control: Livent (and subsequently SFX Entertainment) took over the Lyric and Apollo and created the Ford Center for the Performing Arts; the Liberty and Empire have been merged into an entertainment complex developed by Forest City Ratner, including a Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and a 25-screen movie complex run by AMC; and the Selwyn has been taken over by the Roundabout Theatre Company and renamed the American Airlines Theatre. Perhaps more significantly, Walt Disney renovated and reopened the New Amsterdam, current home of The Lion King.

But that's only one block of 42nd Street. The Times Square area has also seen the emergence of a spate of themed venues, from ESPN Zone to Nasdaq's MarketSite Tower to ABC's Time Square Studios, to the WWF restaurant. Because of this amazing transformation--not only from its squalid condition of the last 30 years to a vibrant heart of the city but also from its theatrical origins to a true themed destination--we decided to take another look at Times Square and its environs. And because the transformation is not quite complete, we decided to call it a hardhat tour. So don those hardhats and mind the dust as we give you another look at the Crossroads of the World.

And don't worry, you'll still be able to find hawkers of the cheesiest souvenirs known to man. This is New York, after all.

New York Times 
November 3, 2004 


Sleaze-Free Times Square as a New Financial Center 


Jeffrey Peck, left, of Newmark & Company, and David Gershon, chief at SuperDerivatives, in Mr. Gershon's conference room at 7 Times Square. 

Times Square, a once-seedy area that was rife with crime and lowbrow entertainment, has been transformed over the last decade not just into a destination for tourists and shoppers but also a home for companies seeking office space. Increasingly, this includes financial businesses that might previously have set up shop downtown in the financial district. 

Among recent arrivals, an executive of a company that combines high technology with high finance said he chose the neighborhood because locating there conveys the idea of "an aggressive, fast-moving" operation. The head of another company, SuperDerivatives, which establishes the values of currency options contracts, said the location suggested his company was "very successful." 

"Financial firms like to be near other financial firms," said David Gershon, chief executive of SuperDerivatives, from his corner office on the 35th floor of Times Square Tower, a new skyscraper on a block running from Broadway to Seventh Avenue and from 41st to 42nd Streets. " Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers, both clients, are just up the street; Reuters and Ernst & Young are right here; and there have to be 20 banks within walking distance." 

The 1.2-million-square-foot building was developed by Boston Properties and opened in April. Officials of the company say it is 79 percent full, despite the demise of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that was to be the anchor tenant. 

The building, also known as 7 Times Square, is the last of four skyscrapers that are part of the renewal of 42nd Street's intersection with Seventh Avenue and Broadway. Another accounting firm, Ernst & Young, occupies the entire building directly across Seventh Avenue, 5 Times Square, which was also developed by Boston Properties. 

The northwest corner is 3 Times Square; it was jointly developed by the Rudin family and Reuters, the news and financial data company. Between 42nd and 43rd Streets on Broadway, 4 Times Square was developed by the Durst Organization and is known as the Condé Nast Building for the publishing company that is its principal tenant. 

Most of the rest of the Condé Nast block, running east to the Avenue of the Americas, is to be occupied by 1 Bryant Park, which will be the biggest of the new towers in the area, a 2.1-million-square-foot building being developed by Durst and Bank of America, the principal tenant. 

The new buildings are attractive to financial services companies, which want ultramodern space and do not shrink at rentals around $55 to $65 a square foot annually, said Jeffrey I. Peck, a managing director of Newmark & Company Real Estate. 

These rents are roughly double those in the Wall Street area, even before city and state incentives are taken into consideration. Some tenants that have moved to Midtown say the difference could be a powerful lure for companies seeking bargains. 

"People can get great prices downtown, and that may change things over time," Mr. Gershon said. "Right now, the cycle is trending more toward Midtown, and that may take a few years to reverse." 

Mr. Peck, who recently brokered the SuperDerivatives lease and a 5,000-square-foot deal for a finance-related company in Times Square Tower, said some smaller companies were attracted to the prebuilt office suites available in some buildings. Taking space that is already finished means they can set up operations in weeks, rather than the months needed for finishing off raw space. 

He said they were also attracted by the high-speed elevators and wireless Internet connections, or Wi-Fi, available in some new buildings. 

The elevator system at Times Square Tower, for example, aims to minimize waiting time. After passing through security in the lobby, all visitors go by elevator to a sky lobby on the fifth floor. There, they face three banks of elevators, for the low-, mid- and high-rise sections of the 47- story building. 

At the entrance to each bank, there is a keypad, where a visitor can punch in the desired floor. A light and a sound indicate which car will be first to go to that floor. Building managers say the system moves people to their destinations 25 percent faster than conventional elevators. 

Kevin Gould, an executive vice president of Mark-It Partners, mentions the elevator speed as one of the building's advantages. He said the company recently made two acquisitions and the new site allowed it to consolidate all its United States operations in one place. 

The company is moving into prebuilt space, but the appearance on a recent visit was one of controlled confusion, with workers adding finishing touches and meetings being held in a circle of chairs because the conference table had not yet arrived. 

Mr. Gould said Mark-It had grown to more than 300 clients in three and a half years and was still growing. It serves financial companies by collecting their trading data on bonds and other instruments and accounting for their value, or "marking it to market" - hence the name. 

"We looked at two spaces," he continued, "and took this on quickly because it is close to the banks and things like the hedge funds on Park Avenue." Mr. Gould said the convergence of subway lines at Times Square was another reason for choosing the location. "If we have to go to Wall Street," he said, "we can get there pretty quickly." 

He said that from personal experience, he felt certain the area was growing into a financial center. "A month ago we signed a big contract with a hedge fund," he added, "and now they are opening offices down the hall." 

Mr. Gould is aware of Times Square's onetime image, but considers that ancient history. "It was not even a consideration in our decision," he said. 

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company


From the NYPOST: 

April 18, 2004 

You could soon be calling it "Times Square Warner." 

The growth of Times Square to the north and the southward revitalization from the rejuvenated Columbus Circle is expected to meet somewhere on Broadway to create one of the hottest retail and entertainment corridors in the world. 

"In addition to the Time Warner Center serving as an anchor to the north, and Times Square to the South, there has also been a tremendous resurgence in activity around Broadway and Seventh Avenue in the 50s," says Newmark's Jeffrey Roseman, one of Manhattan's top retail brokers. 
In less than 10 years, the heart of Manhattan has transformed from the city's most crime-ridden blocks of boarded-up buildings, sex shops, T-shirt stores, drug dealers and prostitututes to the new home of such wholesome ventures as Toys 'R' Us and the flagship Red Lobster eatery. 
There's even a bank going in underneath MTV that will be more "youth oriented." 

"Right now Times Square is by far the most sought out retail market in New York City," Roseman said. "More so than SoHo, Union Square, and Madison and Fifth Avenues. Practically every chain you can think of is looking for a store there now." 

And it's not just the retail chains that are making the move. 
Following the lead of ABC, Conde Nast, Reuters and ESPN, businesses large and small are quickly gobbling up the 10 million square feet of new office space, bringing the total to over 25 million feet of office space in the billboard bastion. 

According to sources, hip clothier Ecko is about to sign a lease on W. 42nd street. Other clothing stores expected to open in the area include H&M and Urban Outfitters. 

Entertainment companies such as House of Blues and Ripley's Believe it or Not will eventually set up shop close to BB Kings and Madame Tussaud's wax museum. 

Perhaps the biggest change in the past few years is the proliferation of upscale dining venues, a trend which began with restaurateur Steve Hanson's Blue Fin eatery in the W Hotel and David Emil's nearby Noche, and has culminated at the Time Warner Center, which may house several of the city's best restaurants. Restaurateurs Marc Packer and Guiseppe Cipriani are planning to open a supper club on 42nd St. Further up Broadway, the first West Side Serafina restaurant is expected to open this year. The latest word has Restaurant Associates, Philadelphia's Steven Starr, TV chef Bobby Flay and ARC restaurants all looking in the new corridor. 

"Basically, there will be something for everyone," says Roseman. Just like Times Square has always been.