Times Square is not a square. Geometrically it is two triangles created by intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue
Is the Center of the city’s theater district, a Mecca for tourists, and a symbol of urban renewal.
Crowded and Chaotic by day, it is spectacular after dark, illuminated by lighting displays famous the world over
Before 1904 Times Square, then known as Longacre Square, was dominated by horse exchanges, carriage factories, stables.
In 1904 the subway arrived along with the New York Times, whose publisher persuaded the city to rename the area for his newspaper, perhaps in competition with Herald Square to the south, named for the New York Herald, then the dominant newspaper.
The city’s theater district developed around Times Square during the first three decades of the 20th century. First came a few pioneers, creeping up Broadway from Herald Square: Charles Frohman’s Empire Theater and Olympia Theater.
The Depression devastated Broadway. Many legitimate theatres were converted to burlesque theaters or to movie houses whose offerings deteriorated from Hollywood hits.
By the 1970, the area was known for crime, drug dealing, and prostitution. Times Square was no longer famous for its theaters and its neon, but notorious for its sleaze.
The turnaround began in the late 1980s, with new commercial real estate development in the West 40s and 50s. In the early 1990s, a combination of governmental, non-profit, and commercial organizations began to pull the neighborhood from its morass.
In 1990 the state took over several historic theaters on 42nd St and formed the New 42nd Street, a non-profit organization, to oversee their redevelopment
The Walt Disney Company came into town in 1993, refurbishing the New Amesterdam Theatre for Disney entertainment.
The Times Square Alliance was founded in 1992 to promote the area, improve public safety, bolster economic development, and deal with quality of life issues.
Today Times Square is cleaner, safer, more profitable, and more visitor-friendly (as many as almost 55 millions tourists visit annually) than it was a decade ago.
While no one wishes for the return of crime and squalor, some observers lament what has become of the neighborhood- its increasing corporate homogeneity and loss of individuality, its bland lineup of chain –stores, and its sense of being for tourists, not new Yorkers.