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Times Square


  - 2 opinions

Times Square

Translated by Helen Hardy — 3 years ago

Original text by Maika Cano Martínez

Times Square is one of the most famous and biggest squares in New York, USA. It's one of the best-known symbols of the city, along with the Empire State Building, the skyline and Central Park. It's located at the intersection of Broadway Avenue with Seventh Avenue, though it spans a much wider area. It's been the setting for many films, video games and TV series, as well as one of the best advertising locations in the city.

In case you don't already know, the way to orientate yourself in Manhatten is very easy, though to us it seems quite hard. The avenues and streets are all numbered, and the only thing you need to know is that the avenues run north to south vertically across Manhatten, and the streets run east to west horizontally, with the exception of Broadway Avenue which crosses the island at an angle. It's a bit strange at first, but you just have to get the hang of it and remember that the island is also divided into east and west zones, using Fifth Avenue, the most important avenue in Manhatten, as an axis.

Times Square hasn't always gone by this name: it was once known as Longacre Square, but its name was changed to Times Square after the New York Times (New York's most famous newspaper) moved its offices there. In my opinion, this is a much better name since it both sounds better and is easier to remember, the square being a world icon.

The square today is a pedestrian-only area, a regulation brought into effect only a few years ago when the square used to be accessible by car. After a traffic decongestion experiment, the mayor decided to make the square pedestrian-only. Times Square had been a symbol of New York for around a decade already however, since it was previously a place famous for crime and drugs.

When I arrived in New York, Times Square was the first thing I saw (apart from the airport and the metro, haha) since my hotel was on one of the streets which leads to Times Square. You can imagine how impressive it was to just see it suddenly looming in front of you, very New York-esque, and I was desperate to dump my suitcase at the hotel and come back to soak up the lights and magic of the location, the crowds and the advertising everywhere... I definitely recommend the hotel I stayed at, since its location and price was very good. It's called Hotel Carter, and Times Square is a one minute walk away.

Times Square

It's at Times Square that the BBC radio program Good Morning America and MTV's Total Request Live are recorded live.

New Year's Eve is also celebrated at Times Square, where the famous New Year's Eve ball descends from the flagpole, and various TV programs are recorded live. The performances start at 5pm on December 31st, and over a million people congregate there every year. An interesting tradition is giving someone a kiss at midnight when the ball lights up, so this is why you often see people without partners just kissing their friends in American films or TV series. New Year's Eve at Times Square is similar to Nochevieja in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, where I'm from, but celebrating New Year at Times Square must be amazing.

At the base of one of the most eye-catching buildings in Times Square stands the statue of Father Duffy. The northern half of Times Square is named Duffy Square in his honor. Father Duffy is the most highly decorated priest in the history of the US Army for his service in the First World War. He also served in one of the churches in Manhatten close to Times Square.

Times Square

The amount of tourists and New York citizens at the square is a bit terrifying: you can't walk quickly because there are so many people walking in opposite directions. Instead, you have to dodge around them, and you can easily lose your friends at any moment and struggle to find them again later. You also have to be careful of pickpockets, and when crossing roads which are pedestrian-only, since cars don't stop to let you across when the light's on green because there are just so many people.

Times Square

Times Square is a huge shopping area, and has almost everything you could want nearby: restaurants, pubs, clothes shops, souvenir shops, toy shops, kiosks, theatres, museums, Starbucks, McDonald's, currency exchange kiosks... Two very famous restaurants can also be found in this square: Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (made famous by the film Forrest Gump) and Planet Hollywood. The Hard Rock Café is also nearby.

Times Square

Let's not forget about Starbucks - it has to be one of the biggest ones I've ever been in.

The chain Forever 21 is among the clothes shops there, and sells modern and cheap clothes for young people. I quite liked it in there, so I bought myself a jersey. Another interesting shop to visit is ToysRUs - it's gigantic, and has a Ferris wheel inside for older kids. The adverts outside also really caught my attention due to their size and the kids on them dancing and acting wearing costumes.

Times Square

There's also a very tempting shop for anyone who likes M&Ms, with two stories' worth of all different kinds of M&Ms, as well as sweaters, mugs, postcards and designer t-shirts. It's a fun place to browse even if you don't end up buying anything.

Times Square

Another unmissable thing to do is to visit one of the many New York souvenir shops. Here on Times Square there are three, two of them very large ones, and aside from the typical 'I LOVE NY' t-shirts they also sell New York notebooks, picture frames, pens, keyrings and puzzles.

Apart from being a shopping area, Times Square is also famous for its theatres and musicals. Every day I saw adverts for all the most famous musicals, such as Mary Poppins and The Lion King, on screens and boards, and there were even ballerinas in the street acting out scenes and giving out leaflets. It really made me want to go and see a musical there, but tickets were 70 dollars (with a discount), and this would have used up a lot of my money all at once. They sell discounted tickets for musicals showing that day near the red stairs on Times Square - the queues are really long, but the discounts very good, so it's worth the wait.

Times Square

The constant advertising on screens around Times Square is quite effective and eye-catching: I actually started watching a series after seeing it advertised there, and I still remember lots of the adverts. It's true though that seeing so much advertising is a bit annoying and exhausting, and in the end you just concentrate on the stuff that appeals to you.

Times Square

Don't forget to stand in front of the screen which films people in Times Square and take a photo of yourself waving in it! Haha, it's very cheesy and American, but it's fun to do. There's also a shop (I don't remember its name) which takes a photo of you if you buy something from there and then projects it onto one of the big screens for a few seconds - a great marketing tactic!

Times Square

Something which really made me laugh were the people who dress up as particular characters for money. The best one was a guy who was totally naked apart from some speedos which said 'Naked Cowboy' on them, and who stood around playing the guitar. If you gave him money, he would let you take a photo with him and you had to put your hand on his bum for it, but I didn't do it, hahah! You have to be careful taking photos from behind them since lots of them have mirrors so they can see if someone's taking photos of them without giving them money - just don't get caught. :P There are also people dressed up who grab you and take a photo with you and don't tell you that you have to pay for it until after they've printed it out for you. This happened to me!

You might see someone famous there of course, if they're filming there or just walking past. I saw the rapper Snoop Dog one night, but I would rather have seen someone else.

One of the best memories I have from Times Square and something I'd love to do again is eat bagels for breakfast at one of the public tables and seats on Times Square. Bagels are those round bread rolls with a hole in the middle, and can be made with different kinds of bread and with different fillings. On one of the streets leading to the square, there's a shop which makes amazing bagels - they told us to try them and we ended up having them for breakfast every day. They cost about 4 euros each, but they were enough to fill me up. I tried one with cheese sauce (and didn't like it that much) and one with egg, bacon and cheese, which was delicious. Another good breakfast at Times Square is in Starbucks, where they sell buttered bagels which are just as tasty.

Times Square

I don't know whether to say there are more people in the daytime or at night. I think probably in the daytime, but at night I thought the square was fantastic since you see the advertising boards and screens so much better, and there are so many colours and contrasts which make the view unique.

Times Square

Some people compare Times Square to Picadilly Circus in London, but I don't think there are really any similarities apart from the large advertising screens. I found Picadilly Circus a bit dark and small, while Times Square shines day and night and is enormous. What I would say, though, is that it looks bigger and more impressive on TV than it actually is.

The square is just as impressive by day as it is by night. I was both lucky and unlucky enough to visit Times Square in September and at the end of February in different years. September was warm and there weren't any building works going on, but there were far too many tourists. In February this year however, I could see everything better since there weren't as many tourists around, but it was snowing heavily and there were building works going on in the centre, so I would say try to avoid going in the wintertime - though I did get to see the square covered in snow, which was a nice view!

Times Square

There's a metro stop on Times Square called 'Times Sq - 42st' (on the orange line and black shuttle line from Grand Central Terminal). However, the square is quite close to Fifth Avenue and to Central Park, so it's also within walking distance of Manhattan's main tourist sights.

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Times Square

Translated by Helen Hardy — 3 years ago

Original text by Patricia Saiz Díaz

Times Square

Times Square is the most crowded place in New York, known for its numerous Broadway theatres, cinemas and gigantic screens. It's one of the places which really make New York the city that never sleeps.

At the end of the nineteenth century, the city of New York had expanded to 42nd Street, and the area had become the centre of the city's social scene. In 1904, the New York Times built Times Tower on 43rd Street at the end of Broadway to replace their facilities from the centre. The square in front of the building was called Longacre Square, but was soon renamed Times Square. The name is now used to describe the area between 40th and 53rd Street and sixth and ninth avenue.

The inauguration of the new New York Times headquarters in Times Square was celebrated with a firework display as part of the New Year celebrations which still take place today.

Times Square

At the start of the First World War, Times Square was the centre of the theatre district and attracted thousands of visitors a year. This made the square a hotspot for pickpockets. The first large electrical screen was installed in 1917. Eleven years later, the electricity was turned on for the first time to celebrate the victory of Herbert Hoover in the presidential election. The billboards have become a tourist attraction in the area.

In the 1930s, the Great Depression lead to a sharp decrease in cinema visitors. Many were forced to close, and were quickly replaced by striptease clubs and adult shows. The area continued to attract visitors however, and after the Second World War, the theatre district made a comeback. At the end of the 1960s, the area began to go downhill and until the mid-70s, tourists actually avoided Times Square, which had become a place infested with drugs, bad luck and criminal activities.

In the 1980s, re-urbanisation proposals were made concerning Times Square, but with little lasting effect. This changed a decade later when the Walt Disney Company opened a Disney shop on the square. This attracted other chains to the area, giving rise to the idea of 'disneyfication'. The area is currently much safer than in the 1990s, as with the majority of New York city, and has once again become a tourist magnet and the centre of New York social life.

Times Square

Today, Times Square is a buzzing tourist magnet; the square is one of the most visited places in the world.

For the majority of the time since its construction, Times Square has been nothing more than a crossroads for traffic, though it has now been rebuilt as a pedestrianised square free of cars. Its re-urbanisation project, named 'Transformation Times Square', began in 2012 and is expected to finish in 2016.

Times Square

Many people visit Times Square for its atmosphere and amazing billboard displays, but there are also many restaurants and shops nearby. There is a total of over 100 in the area, including the Disney shop. Times Square is best known however for its entertainment. and hundreds of visitors come here to see a Broadway show. Times Square is also the home of the MTV headquarters and ABC's 'Good Morning America', filmed in front of a live audience from their office at 44 Broadway.

The most famous building on the square is undoubtedly the iconic Paramount Building. The building was home to Paramount Theatre, where stars such as Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra made appearances. Unfortunately, the theatre was demolished and the Paramount Building is now just an office tower.

Another former theatre, the Embassy Theatre, is now the home of the Times Square tourist information centre. Here you can find information about upcoming events and shows on Broadway. There's also a small museum which tells the story of Times Square.

Times Square

New Year Celebrations at Times Square

In 1903, the New York Times was about to open its new offices in the second tallest building in the city on what was then known as Longacre Square. The newspaper's owner, Adolph Ochs, decided to commemorate the opening with fireworks launched at midnight from the roof of the building on December 31st 1903. After four years of setting off fireworks to celebrate the New Year, Ochs wanted to put on a bigger show at the building to draw more attention to the recently renamed Times Square. An electrician was contracted to build a light-up ball which would be lowered from the flagpole on the roof. The iron ball was only five metres in diameter. Its first descent took place on New Year's Eve 1907, at one second past midnight. Though the New York Times eventually moved its offices elsewhere, the New Year celebration at Times Square continues to be a focal celebration for the world.

The ball has undergone several important transformations over its more than 100 years of celebrating. The original ball was substituted for a five-foot iron ball weighing 400 pounds in 1920. This ball was used until 1995, when a third was installed, with precious stones and computerised lights added. On the occasion of the new millenium, another ball was made. With a weight of 1, 070 pounds and six metres in diameter, the fourth ball was covered with 504 triangles of Waterford Crystal and illuminated by 168 halogen bulbs on its outside. On the inside, 432 clear, red, blue, green and yellow lightbulbs were displayed alongside revolving mirrors lighting up the night sky. This ball made a second appearance in December 2006, recently furnished with light diodes.

Times Square

In honour of the ball's 100th anniversary, a fifth ball made its debut on New Year's Eve 2008. Made again from Waterford Crystal with a diameter of six feet and a weight of 1, 212 pounds, it was lit up with LEDSs and computerised lights, and could produce more than 16. 7 million different colours while only using the same amount of electricity as ten toasters. The 2008 ball was only used on this one occasion, as the sixth ball was installed on New Year's Eve 2009 and is still in use today.

The current ball is 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11, 875 pounds. Though it has been used since 2008, it has been rebuilt to measure twice its former size. To adapt to this new size, the pole's size was also increased, now 475 feet above street level. It continues to be the most famous event to take place at Times Square every year.

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