Times Square History: The Weird Story Of The Evolution Of New York's Tourist Mecca


Anyone who visits New York City is bound to make their way to Times Square, the tourism mecca in the Big Apple. Once the scene of unbridled corruption, the hot spot has been cleaned up in more ways than one, but Times Square hasn't always been a collection of blocks brimming with tourists and lit up by massive LED screens.

Started From The Bottom (of a horse)

Originally nothing more than a farm, the area initially hosted the Manhattan manor of John Morin Scott, a general battle under George Washington. Scott used the area to breed horses, a fortune he stuck with long after John Jacob Astor sold the land to various real estate concerns.

What was left of Scott's farm became known as Longacre Square, even though it was more shaped like a bow tie or two intersecting triangles than anything else. By the end of 1872, the area was known as a center of the horse carriage industry, but the horses - and their scent - remained in the early 20th century. Manure and animal waste of all kinds lined the streets, but German businessman Oscar Hammerstein I saw in Longkre something that no one else did, if only because they couldn't bear to look for too long.

Great White Way Paving

In 1895, Hammerstein brought a new kind of business to this world of horses and carriages: theatre. He developed Olympia, a massive entertainment complex that aims to set fire to the hearts of opera lovers in the city. His ingenuity inspired more patrons of the arts to move in, and he took it everywhere on 42nd Street for a block.

At the same time theaters were moving into the field, so were brownstone buyers, bordellos and small-time crooks. It wasn't "Slim Square" yet, but as the equestrian industry progressed and the entertainment industry progressed, a cast of seed characters who never slept were hidden in the middle of the city.

Newspapers and New Year's

When New York Times publisher Adolph S. Ochs moved his newspaper to a building on 42nd Street, the area quickly became known as Times Square. Once the first electric advertisements went up the square in 1904, it became clear that soon all eyes would be on this small part of Manhattan. As more people and businesses came into the area, so did advertisers, making Wrigley the largest rental space in the world at the time at $9,000 a month.

Soon after, in 1907, people began to gather in Times Square to celebrate the New Year with the drop of an illuminated ball made of iron and wood that weighed 700 pounds. Times Square sign maker Artkraft Strauss produced the ball a century later, and the celebration continued even after the New York Times moved out of the square in 1914.

Mud Square

Once the stock market crashed in 1929, the whole world plunged into a harrowing crisis, and New York City was at the center of it. The residents barely had money to feed themselves, let alone at shows, so many of the square's businesses either closed for good or closed down until they were almost nothing. Theaters were closed due to low attendance, and salons and brothels opened in their place.

Along with those less-than-likeable businesses came less-than-likeable tenants, which led to a "reputation to license". Crime and black marketing was thriving in the area, and while post-war stability brought good waves to the city, Times Square remained a neighborhood filled with seed bars, adult theaters, and an air of violence throbbing through Manhattan. By the 1970s, crime and drug use were so widespread in Times Square that pamphlets were circulated throughout the city instructing tourists to take cabs rather than risk their lives to roam the area . Rolling Stone referred to Times Square as "the dullest block in America" ​​and in 1984, 2,300 crimes took place within a single block, most of them crimes such as murder and rape.

Giuliani's New York

In an effort to crack down on crime in the '90s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani cleaned up the city with a figurative but powerful broom. He was determined to destroy the criminal element that had taken root in the Big Apple, particularly Times Square, turning it into a family-friendly place where tourists from all over the world could feel safe and their wallets. The only danger to the chain were restaurants and souvenirs. Shops.

In addition to closing porn shops and Triple-X arcades and kicking dealers and junkies out of Times Square, Giuliani fined New York City bars and nightclubs for not registering "cabaret licenses." Police officers stationed at his work gave tickets for everything from dancing to smoking to poorly lit exit lights. The cleanup worked, and the city's violent crime rate dropped by 56%.

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