Times Square: Questions and Answers for Your Destination Guide

Times Square: Questions and Answers for Your Destination Guide

Times Square: Questions and Answers for Your Destination Guide

Introducing Times Square: A Kaleidoscope of Urban Experiences and Wonders

Each year over 50 million visitors flock to the bright lights of New York City’s Times Square, cementing its status as one of the most iconic and famous public spaces on the planet.

But why has this small stretch of Manhattan taken such a prominent place in pop culture and become so instantly recognizable across the globe? The answer lies in Times Square’s power to encapsulate so many quintessential pieces of New York into one vibrant intersection.

From the towering billboards and theater marquees glowing neon, to the palpable city energy and crowds gathered at all hours, Times Square represents the sheer spectacle, hustle, and bustle of the Big Apple unlike anywhere else.

Its central location also made it a natural gathering spot for major events like the famous annual New Year’s Eve ball drop, which cemented its reputation.

Read on to discover the multi-faceted history, attractions, entertainment options, and more that have collectively contributed to Times Square’s fame as a must-visit destination and one of the most renowned places on Earth.

Times Square New York City

1. What is the history of Times Square?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

Times Square is one of the most iconic and famous public spaces in the world, located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan in New York City. Known for its bright billboards, flashing neon signs, and bustling crowds, Times Square has a rich and fascinating history dating back over 100 years.

Early Days as Longacre Square

Prior to becoming known as Times Square, the area was originally called Longacre Square after Long Acre, the carriage and horse trade center of London. Longacre Square was largely undeveloped in the early 1800s, dotted mainly with barns and empty lots.

The first seeds of development were planted in 1904 when the New York Times newspaper moved their headquarters to an area then known as Longacre Square. The following year, the publisher Alfred Ochs persuaded the city to officially rename the area Times Square after the newspaper.

Rise of the Theater District

The early 1900s saw Times Square transform into the theater district and the new epicenter of American theater. The first electrified advertisement appeared in Times Square in 1904 for Ohrbach’s department store. Soon the area became known for eye-catching illuminated signs and promotions.

Some key events and venues that contributed to the rise of Times Square as an entertainment hub:

  • The New Amsterdam Theatre opened in 1903 as Broadway’s first real venue.
  • In 1904, the subway reached Times Square, making it easily accessible.
  • The annual New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square started in 1907.
  • In the 1920s, annual Broadway theater awards started being held in Times Square.

Mid-20th Century Decline

After World War II, Times Square began a decades-long decline in the mid-20th century. Television lured audiences away from theaters, and crime rates increased in the area. Many adult-oriented stores and theaters also moved into the area, contributing to its seedy reputation during this period.

Notable during this era:

  • XXX movie theaters and adult stores moved into vacant theaters.
  • Billboards increased to a point considered visual blight.
  • The area was filled with peep shows, crime, and frequent police calls.

Renewal and Redevelopment

Efforts to clean up and redevelop Times Square began in the 1980s and 1990s. Under the leadership of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, policies were enacted to crack down on adult establishments and petty crime. Real estate development surged with corporate entities moving into flashy renovated spaces.

Key changes included:

  • Strict zoning laws forced out adult businesses.
  • Old theaters were renovated for big musicals and family-friendly entertainment.
  • Major chains like Disney and Viacom got involved in development.
  • Investment turned billboards and signs into prime visual attractions.
  • Increased security made the area safe again for tourists.
  • Pedestrian-only zones created improved walkability.

Today, Times Square is the vibrant, pulsing, family-friendly hub of entertainment and culture it was originally intended to be. More than 300,000 pedestrians walk through it daily, visiting the area to take in a Broadway show, dine at restaurants, and of course, experience the legendary electric energy and billboards of Times Square.

2. Why is Times Square Famous?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

Times Square is one of the world’s most visited famous landmarks, drawing over 50 million visitors each year. This vibrant intersection in Midtown Manhattan owes its iconic status and name recognition to several key factors:

Bright Lights and Billboards

Times Square’s most defining feature is likely the dazzling visual landscape of neon, LED displays, and illuminated signs. The corridor is filled with towering billboards, animated advertisements, news tickers, and jumbotron screens bombarding the senses.

Some quick facts about the Times Square billboards:

  • Approximately 300,000 square feet of billboard space covering multiple buildings.
  • Many boards are several stories tall. The largest is eight stories high.
  • Most content displays 15-second ads that continuously refresh.
  • Annual advertising revenue is estimated at over $100 million.

The sheer intensity of the signs and billboards is a quintessential part of the Square’s energy. The bright lights are so iconic that Times Square earned the nickname “The Crossroads of the World.”

New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Each year on December 31st, Times Square becomes the focal point for New York City’s New Year’s Eve revelries. Hundreds of thousands of people cram into the small street area to watch the ceremonial ball drop at midnight, counting down the year’s final seconds.

This world-famous New Year’s tradition has put Times Square on the map since beginning in 1904. Key facts about New Year’s Eve in Times Square:

  • Over 1 million revelers flock to the area to watch in person.
  • Over 1 billion tune in on TV worldwide.
  • Around 5,386 pounds of confetti are released at midnight.
  • The event has only been canceled once in 1942 due to WWII.
  • Security measures include a frozen zone, concrete barriers and viewing pens.

Broadway Theater District

In addition to the ball drop, Times Square owes much of its fame to the area’s massive concentration of Broadway theaters featuring ongoing shows. At its peak, Times Square was home to over 80 theaters in the early 1900s.

Though fewer today, key facts about Broadway in Times Square:

  • Times Square area still contains around 40 theaters with about 10,000 seats.
  • Historically hosted premieres of major shows like Oklahoma!, Annie, and Wicked.
  • Home to annual Tony Awards recognizing excellence in Broadway theater.
  • Marquees and electric signs for ongoing shows light up the area with creative displays.

With so many theaters concentrated in one zone, Times Square cemented its reputation as the heart of American theater.

Central Meeting Spot and Transport Hub

The intersection’s accessibility and central location also contributed to its fame. Key transportation facts:

  • Important transfer point with multiple subway routes converging under Times Square.
  • Port Authority regional bus terminal is close by.
  • High pedestrian traffic with several main avenues intersecting at Times Square.

This connectivity made Times Square a natural meeting point and hub for New York City and beyond. Having an accessible place to congregate for celebrations amplified its notoriety even further.

Restaurants and Entertainment

Beyond the billboards and theaters, Times Square is also known for its concentration of dining, drinking, and entertainment options.

Key facts:

  • Contains ruby terrazzo-floored TKTS booth providing discounted Broadway tickets.
  • Numerous major chain restaurants like Ruby Tuesday’s and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and Madame Tussaud’s wax museum outposts.
  • Sweeping views and entertainment at the top of One Times Square building.

With so many dining and amusement options converged in one area, Times Square offers a critical mass of attractions drawing crowds day and night.

The stunning visuals, yearly celebrations, theater district, accessibility, and range of entertainment options have collectively made Times Square an international symbol. The Square captures the essence of New York City’s excitement, crowds, and around-the-clock activity, cementing its reputation as the city that never sleeps. Times Square has rightfully earned its place as one of the most famous landmarks in the world.

Key points, Why is Times Square so Famous?

Times Square is one of the most iconic and famous public spaces in the world. Here are some of the key reasons why Times Square has such an enormous global reputation:

  • Center of activity in New York City: Times Square is located in the heart of Manhattan and sees over 50 million visitors per year. It represents the bustling energy and constant activity of New York.
  • The epicenter of theater district: The bright lights of Broadway and world-famous theater productions like The Lion King draw huge crowds to Times Square. There are over 40 theaters in the area.
  • Tradition of New Year’s Eve celebration: Since 1904, Times Square has held a massive New Year’s Eve celebration with the famous ball drop at midnight. It is one of the most-watched events globally.
  • Overwhelming display of advertising: Times Square’s buildings are covered in bright, neon advertising and LED screens. These visually stunning displays have appeared in countless films and photos.
  • Major media hub: International media companies like MTV, CNN and The New York Times have offices in Times Square, adding to its reputation.
  • High-profile location: Important events like the World Cup trophy tour, Olympics, presidential elections, and more use Times Square for promotion due to the worldwide attention it receives.
  • Sheer number of visitors: The pedestrian traffic through Times Square each day is greater than the entire population of most major cities. This creates a palpable energy.
  • Iconic status in pop culture: Countless films, TV shows, music videos, and other media have featured Times Square over the decades, cementing its place in pop culture.
  • Architectural history: The visual allure of Times Square’s towering early 20th century buildings adds to its fame as an architectural area.
  • Diverse crowds: People from every corner of the world converge on Times Square, creating an electric, multicultural atmosphere unique to New York.

In short, the sheer concentration of activity, media, advertising, and entertainment in Times Square makes it arguably the most famous public space on Earth. It symbolizes the excitement of New York City and provides endless visual stimulation. For over a century, its character and energy have captivated the imaginations of people worldwide.

3. What are the major landmarks and attractions in Times Square?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

As an entertainment epicenter and hub of activity in New York City, Times Square contains a high concentration of world-famous landmarks and attractions.

Here are some of the key sights and destinations in Times Square:

The Ball

The iconic New Year’s Eve Ball is probably Times Square’s most famous year-round attraction. Weighing 11,875 pounds with a diameter of 12 feet, the ball is covered in 2,688 Waterford crystal triangles. When the ball drops at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the descending illumination is seen worldwide.

Billboards and Signs

Times Square’s world-renowned bright lights are an attraction in themselves. The area contains massive digital LED screens and iconic billboards illuminated by neon and bulbs. Brands like Coca-Cola, M&M’s, and Samsung have huge signature billboards.

One Times Square

The 25-story One Times Square building is the focal point of the New Year’s Eve festivities and was traditionally where the ball dropped. It features a rooftop observatory, gift shop, and the Times Square Visitor Center.

TKTS Booth

TKTS provides same-day discounted Broadway tickets and is housed in a vibrant red glass stairway structure. Over 12 million theatergoers use TKTS each year, with people lining up daily to get seats.

Broadway Theaters

Times Square contains at least 40 Broadway theaters in the immediate area. Marquees like the Winter Garden and Lyceum Theatre feature bright signs for ongoing Broadway shows.

Madame Tussauds New York

The famous Madame Tussauds wax museum lets visitors pose with eerily lifelike wax figures of celebrities, cultural figures, and historical icons.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! showcases the weird, wacky, and unusual through interactive exhibits and odd artifacts. It’s known for its eye-catching external façade.

Nasdaq MarketSite

A cube-shaped studio containing the Nasdaq MarketSite displays a 7-story tall electronic ticker with real-time trading data. The high-tech façade and activity inside are visible to passerby.

Duffy Square and Father Duffy Monument

Duffy Square is a pedestrian plaza in the northern triangle of Times Square. It contains a monument honoring “Father Duffy,” a military chaplain in World War I.

Broadway Plazas

Pedestrian plazas like Broadway Plaza between 43rd and 47th streets provide seating and tables where visitors can rest and take in Times Square.

Grand Staircase

The Grand Staircase descends from Duffy Square to the TKTS Booth with sparkling glass railings illuminated by LED lights installed underneath the steps.

With its billboards, theaters, attractions, statues, and structures, Times Square contains endless sights to see. Visiting these landmarks offers a quintessential Times Square experience.

4. What events and celebrations take place in Times Square?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

Times Square serves as the backdrop for some of New York City’s biggest events and celebrations throughout the year that draw massive crowds. Here are some of the most noteworthy festivities hosted in Times Square:

New Year’s Eve Ball Drop

The most famous tradition is the New Year’s Eve midnight ball drop as the year counts down. Hundreds of thousands of people pack into Times Square on December 31st to watch the glowing ball descend. Tons of confetti and fireworks celebrate the start of the new year.

Pride Week

New York City Pride Week features a Pride March that concludes with a concert and celebration in Times Square. The area gets covered in rainbow flags and colors in June to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride.

Solstice in Times Square

On the summer solstice in June, Times Square celebrates with mindful yoga and meditation sessions right in the heart of the area. The meditation is meant to celebrate mindfulness and mental health.

Earth Day

Times Square observes Earth Day in April to demonstrate environmental awareness. Events promote conservation, with visitors encouraged to take the Times Square green tour highlighting sustainability efforts in area businesses.

Lunar New Year

Delicate red lanterns and dragon puppets fill Times Square during Lunar New Year celebrations commemorating the beginning of the new lunar calendar year. Firecrackers, food vendors, and ribbon dances mark the major Chinese holiday.

Rockefeller Tree Lighting

The famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony also spans into Times Square with live entertainment and a ribbon cutting of the massive tree. It kicks off the holiday season in November.

New Year’s Eve Concert

A free concert on New Year’s Eve leads up to the ball drop featuring A-list music acts performing on a major stage erected in Times Square. J. Lo, Lady Gaga and Mariah Carey have performed at recent concerts.

Pulitzer Fountain Unveiling

Times Square hosted a ribbon cutting and dedication for the iconic Pulitzer Fountain when it opened to the public in May 2022 after restoration. Water shows now periodically take place at the fountain.

NFL Super Bowl

When New York City hosted the Super Bowl, Times Square had activities like autograph sessions with players, concerts, fireworks, and the Vince Lombardi trophy display. Occurs when the game is nearby.


The New York City Marathon finishes right in Central Park, so athletes pass through Times Square on the route with live bands and cheering crowds. The area also supports TCS New York City Marathon events.

No matter the season, Times Square provides an exciting venue for celebrations that capture the spirit of New York. These festivities and events held in the famous intersection add to its reputation as the Crossroads of the World.

5. What Broadway shows are currently playing in Times Square?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

With its countless Broadway theaters, Times Square is the heart of New York City’s theater district. At any given time, dozens of high-profile Broadway shows are entertaining crowds in the Times Square area.

Here is a look at some of the top productions currently running on Broadway in the Times Square district as of August 2023:

The Lion King

The long-running musical The Lion King continues to play at the Minksoff Theatre, using elaborate costumes and puppetry to bring the Disney story to life on stage through original songs like “Circle of Life.”


The hugely popular rap and hip-hop musical Hamilton tells the story of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton using diverse casting and a modern musical style. It plays at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

MJ The Musical

This new musical focuses on Michael Jackson’s life and music, including hits like “Beat It” and “Billie Jean.” It stars a talented impersonator in the title role at the Neil Simon Theatre.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Currently playing at the Lyric Theatre, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a two-part play that takes place after the original Harry Potter series, portrayed by adult actors.

The Phantom of the Opera

At the Majestic Theatre, the beloved classic Phantom of the Opera continues its record-setting run that started in 1988 with stunning Victorian-inspired sets and costumes.


The jazz and vaudeville-inspired musical Chicago is the second longest-running Broadway show ever, having opened in 1975. It’s a satire of crime and celebrity.


A stage adaptation of the animated Disney film, Aladdin features ornate sets and costumes, magic carpet stunts, and popular songs at the New Amsterdam Theatre.

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is an irreverent satirical musical about Mormon missionaries from the creators of South Park. It combines parody with traditional musical theater.


Based on the supernatural movie, the quirky musical Beetlejuice stars Alex Brightman as the zany title ghost with fantastic costumes and special effects at the Marquis Theatre.


This musical starring Reeve Carney retells the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice set in post-apocalyptic factory world, with a jazz/blues score.

This list just scratches the surface of all the sensational productions lighting up marquees and theaters in the Times Square Broadway district. With new shows constantly opening, there is always something fresh and exciting to experience on Broadway in the heart of New York City.

6. What hotels are located right in Times Square?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

With its central location and bright lights, Times Square is a hugely popular area for visitors to stay when traveling to New York City. Several major hotels are situated right in the thick of Times Square, putting guests steps from the action.

Here is an overview of some of the top hotels located directly in bustling Times Square:

Marriott Marquis

The iconic Marriott Marquis has towering views right over Times Square with high-tech rooms spread across this mega 49-story hotel. It’s known for its busy lobby and dining atrium.

Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel

Located at the cross-section of 7th Ave and W 48th Street, the contemporary Renaissance has modern rooms and decor with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Times Square.

Crowne Plaza Times Square

The contemporary Crowne Plaza in the middle of Times Square offers a rooftop bar and close views of the iconic billboards and ball drop on New Year’s Eve.

W Times Square

W Times Square sets the mood with trendy music and chandeliers at this hip spot with eclectic rooms, a lounge, and a location near iconic area theaters.

DoubleTree Suites by Hilton New York City – Times Square

DoubleTree Suites lives up to its name with apartment-style suites that feature full kitchens and living rooms for extra space right off Times Square

The Knickerbocker Hotel

Exuding old New York charm, The Knickerbocker is a historic Times Square hotel with a legendary bar and jazz club on site, and rooms with cocktail kits and minibars.

Hotel Edison Times Square

Hotel Edison has an Art Deco vibe with classic rooms and a piano lounge hosting live music, located right near the bright lights of Times Square.

Casablanca Hotel Times Square

With a prime spot on W 43rd Street, the boutique Casablanca Hotel offers Arabian-inspired rooms and decor with floor-to-ceiling windows of Times Square views.

Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel

Inside a sleek 51-story skyscraper, the contemporary Sheraton has a buzzing restaurant and bar scene with rooms overlooking the sights and sounds of Times Square.

citizenM New York Times Square

citizenM caters to the modern traveler through tech-savvy rooms with mood lighting and designer furniture, located right off the Times Square action.

Staying in a hotel located right in the heart of Times Square places visitors in the midst of the action. With attractions, restaurants, theaters, and iconic billboards just outside the front doors, these hotels capture the vibrant spirit and convenience of the Crossroads of the World.

7. What are the best places to eat in Times Square?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

As one of the most visited destinations in New York City, Times Square is packed with dining and drink options to fuel up before a Broadway show or night out.

Here are some of the top spots for delicious meals and snacks right in the Times Square area:

Virgil’s Real BBQ

Get ready for succulent smoked meats, ribs, brisket, and classic sides at this taste of authentic Virgil’s BBQ. Their BBQ combos and platters make for a satisfying meal.

Carmine’s Italian Restaurant

Family-style Italian dishes are served in huge portions at bustling Carmine’s, a great choice for groups. Their menu features pasta, seafood, chicken parmesan, and antipasti spreads to share.

Junior’s Restaurant and Bakery

Since 1950, Junior’s has been serving their world-famous cheesecake along with classic deli sandwiches and platters in a casual, old-school setting with great people watching.

Sardi’s Restaurant

Inside, this theater district icon Sardi’s is packed with caricatures of showbiz stars. Upscale Continental cuisine, grilled steaks, and seafood are served in a classy, old Hollywood atmosphere.

Guy Fieri Kitchen + Bar

Guy Fieri brings his bold flavors to Times Square with an American menu of burgers, wings, tacos, and shareable appetizers like mac and cheese bites and sliders.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Inspired by the movie Forrest Gump, Bubba Gump offers shrimp dishes, burgers, sandwiches, and cocktails in a fun atmosphere filled with movie memorabilia and a chef with a secret shrimp sauce.

Shake Shack

For fast-casual options, Shake Shack serves their popular burgers, chicken sandwiches, shakes, and concretes right on 44th Street in the heart of Times Square.

Hard Rock Cafe

Get your fill of burgers, wings, fajitas, and steaks surrounded by rock n’ roll memorabilia at this iconic Hard Rock Cafe primely located right in Times Square.

Planet Hollywood

The movie memorabilia-filled Planet Hollywood transports diners while enjoying American fare like burgers, ribs, pasta, and fajitas under film reels and props.

Ellen’s Stardust Diner

Ellen’s Stardust offers all-American diner fare while enjoying live singing performances from talented Broadway hopefuls serving as your waiters.

With options ranging from iconic institutions to modern spots by celebrity chefs, Times Square delivers something for all tastes and great energy for dining out in NYC.

8. Is Times Square safe for tourists?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

With its crowds and city setting, some visitors are concerned about safety when visiting the high-profile location of Times Square. However, thanks to strict security measures and law enforcement, Times Square provides a secure environment for tourists.

Heavily Policed Zone

The area is filled with a strong police presence including mounted officers, counterterrorism units, and foot patrols around the clock. Many officers are specially trained to deal with the area’s unique crowds.

Multiple Security Cameras

Strategically placed security cameras monitor activities throughout Times Square, acting as deterrents and providing footage to aid police in the event of criminal activity.

Barriers and Traffic Restrictions

Large concrete and steel barriers now surround main pedestrian areas to prevent unauthorized vehicles from entering. Much of Times Square is closed to traffic which limits risks.

Coordination with FBI and Homeland Security

The NYPD partners with federal agencies like the FBI and Homeland Security to share intelligence and ensure safety for high-profile locations like Times Square.

Experience Handling Large Crowds

Law enforcement units are extremely experienced in crowd control tactics from managing the weekly New Year’s Eve crowds and experience with protests and celebrations.

Responding to Threats

When disturbing threats occur, the NYPD ensures a rapid response by immediately flooding the zone with hundreds of officers and resources to intercept the threat and prevent incidents.

Enhanced Observation

Officers are trained to keep a close eye out for signs of trouble through techniques like behavioral profiling and awareness of unattended bags or suspicious behavior.

Emergency Precautions

Protocols are in place for emergency situations like evacuations and temporary shutdowns of Times Square to move people out of harm’s way if major threats arise.

METRO Unit Patrols Subway

The NYPD Transit Bureau METRO Unit patrols the Times Square subway station and connecting routes to provide security for commuters and travelers.

With its intensive security measures and vigilance, Times Square remains one of the safest neighborhoods in New York City based on crime data. Visitors can take in the sights with peace of mind knowing law enforcement works diligently to ensure a secure experience.

9. When is the best time to visit Times Square?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

As one of New York City’s most bustling and crowded destinations, Times Square can provide quite different experiences depending on when you visit. Taking time of year, weather, and events into account, here is an overview of the best times to visit Times Square:

Spring and Fall

The comfortable months of spring (March to May) and fall (September to November) bring moderate crowds of tourists without stifling summer heat or winter cold. The weather is mild for walking around the square.


Compared to weekends, weekday crowds are a bit mellower in Times Square, especially in the morning and midday hours after the out-of-towners depart. This makes it better for photos and navigating the area.

Evening Hours

At night, Times Square transforms with the billboards and signs lit up in all their glory. The area also has a more romantic, magical ambiance at night when neon is glowing. However, it gets more crowded at night.

Early Morning

For lighter crowds, arrive at dawn to watch the square wake up and illuminate. An early start lets you appreciate the area before packs of visitors descend later in the day.

Summer Weekdays

Summers are crowded, but the square empties out a bit when locals are at work. Summer weekdays bring smaller crowds, especially on Mondays and Wednesdays before big Broadway shows.

Thanksgiving to New Year’s

From late November through New Year’s Eve, Times Square gets increasingly packed with visitors, especially around the winter holidays. Go during Thanksgiving to New Year’s to experience the buzzing energy and festivities.

New Year’s Eve

The most crowded, chaotic, and exhilarating time is New Year’s Eve when revelers pack in for the ball drop. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience requiring advance planning and patience.

Checking events calendars and averaging weather data can help narrow down your ideal time. But the electric energy of Times Square offers something magical year-round. So whenever you can visit, just embrace the crowds and the unforgettable experience.

10. How do I get to Times Square using public transportation?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

With its central location in Midtown Manhattan, Times Square is highly accessible through New York City’s extensive public transportation network.

Here are some of the best ways to get to Times Square using metro area trains, buses, and subways:


The most popular option is taking the subway, with Times Square serving as a major connecting hub. Multiple subway lines stop directly at Times Square including the 1, 2, 3, 7, A, C, E, N, Q, R, and S trains. Useful stations are the Times Square-42nd Street and 42nd Street-Port Authority stops.

Port Authority Bus Terminal

For visitors arriving by bus, the massive Port Authority Bus Terminal is conveniently located one block from Times Square. The terminal serves long-distance buses arriving from cities across northeast U.S. states.

NJ Transit

From New Jersey, the NJ Transit provides frequent train services into Penn Station just a few blocks from Times Square via commuter lines like the Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast lines.

Metro-North Railroad

Those traveling from counties north of NYC can take Metro-North trains arriving at Grand Central Terminal. From there, Times Square is just a short 10-minute walk or quick subway ride away.

NYC Ferry

NYC ferries with service to areas like Brooklyn stop at the West 39th Street Pier, placing passengers within a safe 15-minute walk of Times Square.

Citi Bike

Once in the Times Square area, the Citi Bike stations provide 24/7 access to bikes for quick travel between nearby destinations like Central Park and Rockefeller Center.

MTA Buses

For outer boroughs, MTA buses like the M42 crosstown, M20, M7, M104, and X27 express buses run through central Manhattan stopping near Times Square.

NYC Yellow Taxis

Iconic NYC yellow taxis are also plentiful in the Times Square area and offer affordable metered rides for short distances to nearby neighborhoods.

With so many affordable and convenient public transport options all converging in Times Square, it’s easy to access this top attraction car-free. Public transit definitely makes getting around efficient when visiting the hustle and bustle of Times Square.

11. Why is Times Square called Times Square?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

Times Square did not always have the name it does today. Here is some background on where the name Times Square originated:

  • In 1904, the New York Times newspaper moved their headquarters to an area formerly known as Longacre Square. Adolph Ochs, the newspaper’s owner, successfully lobbied the city to rename the area Times Square after the newspaper.
  • Longacre Square had been named after Longacre Road, the main thoroughfare through the area. Longacre Road was renamed Broadway after the Times Square renaming.
  • The New York Times chose to relocate its operations to Longacre Square because of the area’s proximity to the established Theater District. The newspaper saw the opportunity to have a headquarters close to New York’s culture and entertainment center.
  • By branding the area as Times Square, the New York Times was able to promote itself and increase its visibility dramatically. This cemented the newspaper’s status as one of the most influential in New York City.
  • The first New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square was held in 1904 immediately after the official renaming. This tradition greatly boosted Times Square’s fame worldwide.
  • Over the decades, Times Square became the go-to destination for restaurants, theaters, music halls, hotels, and other businesses seeking to highlight their proximity to such a famous location.
  • Though the New York Times moved their headquarters in the 1960s, the Times Square name stuck. The association with the newspaper had become too strong to change by that point.
  • Today, Times Square pays homage to the New York Times’s role in its naming and fame by retaining signs for the newspaper as well as its iconic news zipper display.
  • Ironically, the competitive value of a Times Square address led the New York Times to move away as rents soared. But without the newspaper’s presence there from 1904-1960s, Times Square would likely not exist as such a renowned place today.

Finally, the name Times Square pays homage to the influential New York newspaper that helped establish the area’s identity in the early 20th century. The New York Times put Times Square on the map, and the name has stuck ever since.

12. Why do people visit Times Square?

Times Square attracts over 50 million visitors per year, making it one of the most visited destinations globally. Here are some of the main reasons people flock to Times Square:

  • Theater district: Times Square is at the heart of New York’s theater district. People visit to see high-profile Broadway shows like Hamilton, The Lion King, and Wicked. There are over 40 theaters concentrated in the Times Square area.
  • New Year’s Eve: Hundreds of thousands of people cram into Times Square on December 31st to witness the famous New Year’s Eve ball drop at midnight. It is one of the largest public New Year’s celebrations globally.
  • Shopping and dining: Times Square is filled with massive stores like Disney, M&M’s World, and major chains like Sephora. There is also no shortage of dining options like national chains, local eateries, and fine dining spots.
  • Advertising and billboards: Times Square is world-famous for its overwhelming visual advertising like massive LED displays and neon signs. Many visit just to take in this sight.
  • Music and entertainment: Beyond Broadway, Times Square offers entertainment like Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, and countless music performances.
  • TV broadcasts: Good Morning America, MTV, CNN, and other major TV networks broadcast live from Times Square, and people visit hoping to appear on TV.
  • Photo opportunities: The bright lights and constant activity make Times Square an iconic photo backdrop. Visitors flock there to snap pictures with family and friends.
  • Hotels and accommodations: Major hotels like Marriott Marquis and Sheraton give people prime access to the heart of Times Square during their stay in New York.
  • Special events: Times Square frequently hosts major events like product launches, celebrity appearances, concerts, festivals, and more that draw large crowds.
  • Sheer excitement: For many, just being in Times Square is exhilarating. The bright lights, energy, and constant crowds create an electric atmosphere unmatched anywhere else in the world.

In essence, Times Square offers endless entertainment, advertising, and energy that visitors find irresistible. It is a must-see destination in New York City.

13. Why are there so many billboards in Times Square?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

The countless billboards and massive LED advertisements covering Times Square’s buildings make it one of the most visually stimulating places on Earth.

Here are some key reasons behind the tremendous advertising presence:

  • High visibility: The sheer volume of foot traffic, visitors, and worldwide media attention focused on Times Square provides incredible visibility for advertisers. Hundreds of thousands of eyes see the ads each day.
  • Prime real estate: The buildings around Times Square are prime real estate for ads. Times Square’s reputation and activity mean advertisers want their ads displayed there, so property owners can charge top dollar.
  • Tourism: Over 50 million visitors flock to Times Square annually. Advertisers know their ads will reach not only New Yorkers but tourists from around the world.
  • Broadway: The city’s theater district centered in Times Square attracts huge advertising since Broadway shows heavily promote upcoming productions.
  • Media presence: Major media outlets like ABC, MTV, and Reuters have studios in Times Square. Advertisers want exposure from broadcasts.
  • New Year’s Eve: The NYE ball drop draws over 1 billion TV viewers. Major brands advertise in Times Square specifically for NYE visibility.
  • Special events: Times Square hosts product launches, celebrity appearances and other special events that draw attention. Brands advertise around these events.
  • Event signage: Many ads are for events happening at nearby theaters and concert halls to capture the theatergoing audience.
  • History: Times Square has displayed lavish advertising signs since the early 20th century. Maintaining this history remains important.
  • Zoning laws: Special zoning laws regulate size and aesthetics but place no cap on the number of signs in Times Square as in other areas of NYC.

Simply put, Times Square offers unmatched place branding and visibility, attracting advertisers willing to pay premium rates. As both a tourist haven and media mecca, Times Square is the ideal place to capture the eyes of millions.

14. Why is Times Square so bright at night?

The stunning visual brightness of Times Square at night is a key part of its worldwide fame and allure.

Here are some of the reasons it dazzles so brilliantly after dark:

  • Billboard and signage lights: The countless billboards, signs, LED screens, and other advertisements in Times Square are all extremely brightly lit, most using energy-efficient LEDs today. These consume significant electricity to stay brightly illuminated through the night.
  • Marquees and theater lights: The bright, elaborate marquees and signs for Broadway theaters help light up Times Square at night when audiences flock to shows. Theaters use powerful spotlights as well.
  • Storefronts and restaurants: The various retail stores and restaurants in the area have elaborate window displays, signs, and lighting schemes that add to the brightness.
  • Special event lighting: Times Square frequently has lights specifically for product launches, VIP visits, celebrations, and other special events happening in the area.
  • TV studio lights: Major TV networks like ABC and MTV have studios in Times Square to broadcast live. These studios use very bright lighting for their on-air talent.
  • New Year’s Eve lighting: Extraordinary lighting is added throughout Times Square on New Year’s Eve to accommodate the huge midnight celebration and ball drop event.
  • Streetlights: While not as bright as the signage, Times Square has abundant street lighting on its roads and sidewalks needed to accommodate the constant crowds.
  • Architectural lighting: Many of the area’s historic early 20th-century buildings have architectural lighting that accentuates details through illumination.
  • Theater marquees: Beyond Broadway, there are dozens of small theaters in Times Square with their own bright marquees that add up.
  • Government requirements: New York City regulations require Times Square buildings to maintain a certain brightness level at night for safety and visibility.

In short, the convergence of advertising, events, theaters, retail, studios, and more make Times Square one of the most visually bright locations on Earth after the sun sets. It is an urban nucleus of light.

15. Why is New Year’s Eve in Times Square so famous?

Times Square: Questions and Answers

The New Year’s Eve celebration centered around the iconic ball drop in Times Square is one of the most famous traditions across the globe.

Here are some of the key reasons it has gained such renown:

  • Massive crowd: Hundreds of thousands of people actually attend the event in person, and nearby pockets of NYC host their own celebrations. The huge number of attendees draws major attention.
  • Live national broadcast: The lead-up and midnight countdown are broadcast live on major networks and online, exposing the Times Square NYE tradition to millions.
  • Over a century old: The Times Square ball drop began in 1904, making it one of the oldest and longest-running public NYE celebrations globally. Such history gives it fame.
  • Star appearances: Celebrities and musicians like Taylor Swift frequently headline the event with performances adding to the star power and publicity.
  • One-of-a-kind location: The brightly lit billboards and electric energy of Times Square make a stunning, unique backdrop unlike any other NYE celebration.
  • Worldwide visibility: The event is broadcast around the world and covered heavily by international media, allowing millions globally to take part.
  • Shared experience: People across cultures relate to celebrating the new year, so the Times Square ball drop becomes a shared human experience.
  • Exciting atmosphere: The noisy crowds, falling confetti and overall spectacle create tangible excitement and a party atmosphere broadcast to all.
  • Quintessential NYC: Times Square on NYE represents NYC at its finest – bright, energetic, diverse, and captivating on a global scale.
  • Unique tradition: Very few places have a long-running NYE event and iconic tradition like the ball drop. That uniqueness makes it famous.

Overall, the sheer energy, crowds, history, locale, and visibility of Times Square on NYE have made it a beloved ritual known across the world and a bucket list item for many. It is a singular annual phenomenon.

16. Why is there always a crowd in Times Square?

Crowds are a constant sight in Times Square, with the pedestrian traffic flow through the area remaining extremely high throughout days and nights all year long.

Here are the main reasons Times Square perpetually attracts a crowd:

  • Heavy tourism: Over 50 million visitors come to Times Square annually, making it one of NYC’s top tourist destinations. Many tourists linger in the area snapping photos, which gathers crowds.
  • Central location: Times Square is centrally located in Manhattan and sits above major transit hubs, meaning countless locals and commuters pass through daily.
  • Dining and nightlife: The abundance of restaurants, bars, cafes, and other eateries in Times Square provide constant crowds day and night.
  • Broadway theaters: The presence of over 40 theaters in the Times Square area brings steady streams before and after shows.
  • Retail stores: Major chain stores like Disney, M&M’s World, and Forever 21 attract swarms of shoppers.
  • Energy and excitement: Times Square’s sheer energy and spectacle entice people to the area to experience it. Some come just to people-watch.
  • Special events: Product launches, celebrity events, concerts, festivals, and more happening in Times Square regularly draw concentrated crowds.
  • TV tapings: Networks like ABC and MTV frequently film morning and late-night shows in Times Square, with crowds gathering to watch.
  • New Year’s Eve: The world-famous NYE ball drop draws hundreds of thousands to Times Square on December 31st for the city’s biggest annual party.
  • Photo opportunities: Many tourists and locals come to simply snap photos with the billboards, lights, and general Times Square backdrop.

In essence, the sheer amount of energy, attractions, transit, and global notoriety make Times Square a natural magnet for crowds 24/7. It is New York City’s quintessential beating heart.

17. Why do people propose in Times Square?

Times Square’s reputation as “The Crossroads of the World” and its bright lights make it a highly popular place for couples to get engaged.

Here are some top reasons people choose Times Square to pop the question:

  • Romantic atmosphere: The bright lights and bustling energy create an electric, romantic mood perfect for proposals. Times Square feels alive with possibility.
  • Public spectacle: Proposing in front of crowds and strangers makes the moment more special and public. It’s easy to draw a crowd in Times Square.
  • Photo backdrop: Times Square’s towering billboards, neon signs, and lighting make amazing proposal photos couples will cherish.
  • Celebrity status: Proposals feel celebrity-style with the sheer number of people and flashing lights. Times Square proposals emulate what’s seen in movies.
  • NYC icon: It represents New York City at its finest. Proposing in Times Square associates the love story with this famous NYC landmark.
  • Memorable story: A Times Square proposal story stands out when shared with family and friends. The location makes the experience unforgettable.
  • On their schedule: Unlike restaurants or sports events, couples can come to Times Square and propose spontaneously when the moment feels right.
  • Low cost: It’s free to propose in Times Square. All you need is the ring and good timing.
  • Constant crowds: There’s almost always plenty of people around to witness the proposal and celebrate the newly engaged couple.
  • History: Over a century of history in Times Square gives the location significance and prestige.

In short, Times Square’s energy, romantic vibe, crowds, photo potential, and sheer fame make it a perfect place to get down on one knee. It creates lifelong memories and stories.

18. Why are the streets in Times Square diagonal?

Unlike most of orderly grid-patterned streets of New York City, Times Square features unusual diagonal streets criss-crossing through its bowtie-shaped area.

There are a few historical reasons behind this:

  • Pre-existing farmland: Before urbanization, much of the Times Square area was farmland oriented diagonally to the flow of a former river. Streets then developed along the angle of these farms.
  • Broadway diagonal: Broadway itself, the core of Times Square, runs on a diagonal from the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811 which laid out Manhattan’s early street grid.
  • Cutting across grid: When Times Square formed, its streets cut diagonally across Manhattan’s rigid grid to connect Broadway with 7th Avenue, creating extra triangles.
  • Accommodating theaters: The diagonal streets helped fit the high number of theaters being built in Times Square in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Eminent domain: The city used eminent domain to buy up small lots to form the larger bowtie-shaped parcels needed for theaters and hotels.
  • Public squares: The triangular intersections

Key takeaways

Times Square is one of the world’s most iconic public spaces, famous for its illuminated billboards, Broadway theaters, and New Year’s Eve ball drop. The area transformed into an entertainment hub in the early 20th century and experienced a later decline before renovations in the 1990s cleaned up the area. Today, Times Square dazzles visitors with towering electronic signs and hosts major events like Solstice yoga and Broadway show debuts. The convenient transit options and constant crowds make this busy intersection the true Crossroads of the World.


  • With so many dining, shopping, and entertainment options, Times Square delivers nonstop activity day and night.
  • Police and security measures ensure visitor safety in this high-profile and heavily trafficked zone.
  • The bright lights are romantic at night, but early mornings provide smaller crowds for those wanting a more peaceful experience.
  • No matter when you visit, Times Square captures the quintessential bustling energy of New York City.

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