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“I WANNA WAKE UP IN THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS…”
June 20, 2011, 3:52 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Frank Sinatra once said, “New York, New York I want to wake up in that city that doesn’t sleep.” For some reason these lyrics have played in my head ever since I was a little girl. It wasn’t until I was seven years old and my mother took me to Times Square to see the TRL studious that I really grasped a sense of Frank Sinatra’s hit debut “New York, New York. It was

Times Square

Times Square

almost bedtime and I remember looking out my hotel window and seeing the lights and advertisements glaring from the high buildings. I knew that one day I wanted to live in the New York and be a part of the city that never sleeps.

Since then I have had an extreme fascination with Times Square and it’s influence on America. When given the opportunity to intern in New York City, I knew exactly where I wanted to be. Through many interviews and phone sessions I was able to lock down my internship at MTV for integrated marketing. This meant a couple of things to me. Not only would I be receiving one of the greatest opportunities ever given to me but I was also going to be working in the heart of Times Square.

Having the opportunity to intern in Times Square has allowed me to really observe the area and be in awe at all the constant changes. Aside from being a major commercial intersection in New York City there is a lot of history that goes into making it the place it is today. At the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets lies decades of history my imagination has been waiting to explore.

Through extensive research and observations I have been able to grasp an understanding of the neighborhood and its changes over the years. It wasn’t always flashing lights and tourists; it has gone through decades of transformations making it the neighborhood that it is today.

Before all the glitz and glam Times Square was surrounded by countryside used for farming and breeding horses. Around the time of the American Revolution, the area belonged to a man by the

John Scott

name of John Morin Scott who was a layer, military officer and statesman.  Scott served under George Washington’s lead was the last of Washington’s generals to argue against surrendering Manhattan to the British. Many claim it was because he had a large amount of landholding there including what is now Times Square. His large manor house was located on what today is known as 43rd street. Once the war ended, Scott retrieved his Manhattan estate and became New York’s first Secretary of State. Overall Scott had a tremendous impact on setting a basic foundation for the Manhattan area and seeing its potential.

A century later it became one of John Jacob Astor’s most prized possessions. As the city rapidly expanded over time, Astor would sell his lots to hotels and other real estate purposes and eventually made a fortune off it. New York Times publisher Adolph S Ocks reached new heights (literally) with expanding the newspapers and persuaded Mayor George B. McClellan  to construct a subway system.  Between the years of 1830 and 1860 the Astor family built a neighborhood that remained exclusive until the 1890s. (Jackson)

The twentieth century brought many changes to this area in Manhattan. In 1904 New York City was on the verge of tremendous changes including the naming of Times Square on April 8th. (Feirstein) Before it received its name as Times Square the area was known as Long Acre Square.

Long Acre

(Times Square History) Only three weeks after it was renamed, the first electrified advertisement appeared on the side of a bank on the corner of 46thStreet and Broadway. (Cross)The changes didn’t just stop there, the opening of the city’s first subway system and the celebration of New Years Eve in

New Years Eve in Times Square

Times Square were also new improvements that would impact the city for many years to come. (Securing New Year’s Eve In Times Square) The New York Times erected a new building nearby on 43rd street. To commemorate the new site, Adolph Ocks staged the New Years Eve spectacular that began the tradition of the ball dropping up until the 21st century. (Jackson)

Times Square became known as the Crossroads of the World for achieving its iconic world landmark and its symbolism. (The Crossroads of The World) In 1913 entrepreneur Carl Fischer led the Lincoln Highway Association at the intersection of 42nd Street and Broadway to be the Eastern Terminus of the Lincoln Highway. (Weingroff) This became the first road across the United States which originally spanned 3,389 miles coast-to-coast.

Overtime Times Square continued to rapidly expanded becoming a place of music halls, shopping, theaters and upscale hotels. It’s crazy to imagine a place that was once filled with green grass and animals being replaced by tall buildings and flashing lights.

Throughout the 1910’s and 1920’s Times Square were closely associated with celebrates Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin. Times Square took received the nickname “The Tenderloin” because it was considered the most desirable place in all of Manhattan. During the 1930s the number of visitors increased due to large-scale tourism and business travel along with a decline in religious and moral strictures. In 1927-28 a record was set when 264 shows were produced in 76 theaters. (Jackson) Times Squares expanding reputation made it a desirable place for many tourists.

Although there were many great improvements during this time, Times Square was also stricken with crime and corruption in acts like gambling and prostitution. The 1930s were hard years for everyone. The Great Depression had just hit and the economy was at an all-time low. Times Square’s attitude

NYC 1930s

and reputation changed during this time due to a corrupted neighborhood filled with sex shops and adult theaters. (Sex and the Square) Cheap grinder houses offered continuous showings of sexually explicit films. From 1960 to 1990s Times Square continued to have a bad reputation throughout America. Times Square was not considered a dangerous place to visit.

In efforts to clean up the reputation of the area, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (1994-2002) led an effort to clean the city up and regain its once golden reputation. Giuliani increased security, closed pornographic theaters and pressured drug dealers to relocate. Because of this effort, it once again became of place of tourist – friendly attractions and nice establishments.  Places like ToysRus and Ripley’s Believe It or Not made Times Square a lively place again.

These tourist friendly attractions and nice establishments were the reasons I was interested in Times Square to begin with. Through extensive research I have been able to grasp a sense of Times Squares history and personality over the years. It has transformed in many ways and experienced many hardships. The Great Depressions was defiantly a low-point for the once golden neighborhood. The bright lights and constant entertainment weren’t always accessible and there.

 

Resources:

Cross, Heather. “Times Square Neighborhood Guide.” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Jun 2011. <http://gonyc.about.com/od/neighborhoodguides/a/timessquare.htm&gt;.

Feirstein, S. (2001). Naming New York: Manhattan places & how they got their names. New York: New York University Press.

Jackson, Kenneth T. “Times Square.” The Encyclopedia of New York City. Second Edition. Yale University, 2010. Print.

NY.com, The Paperless Guide to New York City. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2011, from http://www.ny.com/

“Securing New Year’s Eve in Times Square.” Military.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jun 2011. <http://www.military.com/news/article/securing-new-years-eve-in-times-square.html&gt;.

“The Crossroads of The World .” Pbskids.org . N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jun 2011. <http://pbskids.org/bigapplehistory/arts/topic15.html&gt;.

Times Square Alliance – Times Square: Then and Now – Timeline. (n.d.). Times Square – Official Site. Retrieved June 16, 2011, from http://www.timessquarenyc.org/then_now/then_now_timeline.htm

“Time Square History .” N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Jun 2011. <http://www.nyctourist.com/times-square-history.php&gt;.

VR, Macbeth . “Sex and the Square .” Times Square Crossroads of the World . N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jun 2011. <http://www.timessquare.com/NYC__/Times_Square_History/Sex_and_the_Square/&gt;.

Weingroff, Richard . “The Lincoln Highway.” N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jun 2011. .

Pictues:

http://www.lileks.com/NYC/timessquare/longacre.jpg

http://missrosen.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/nyc1930s.jpg

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/images/photo/2007/08/24/20070824RIPL/19382031.JPG

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