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Times Square

Times Square (81)

A bottle of Coca-Cola 10 metres high, a gigantic cup of coffee, a huge screen that reports on breaking news, neon lights everywhere, the world’s most famous stores and a lot, a lot of bustle. You are in the centre of Manhattan, and this is Times Square, a place visited by some 300,000 people daily using public transportation and by some 40 million people a year.

This hourglass-shaped square consists of two triangles formed by the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, between 42nd Street and 47th Street. In fact, although there really is not much space for pedestrians, Times Square has achieved an iconic status of the city, comparable to that of Trafalgar Square in London, the Tiananmen Square in Beijing or Moscow's Red Square.

In addition to the renowned stores and powerful brands established here, more than 30 Broadway grand theatres are concentrated in the area, in addition to plenty of cinemas, so that Times Square is the true heart of the Theater District of New York. Here, you can buy tickets for Broadway plays at discounted prices, if you want to see them on the same day.

But the fame of Times Square is relatively recent. In the 19th century, the area was home to the city’s horse market, which is why the square was formerly known as Longacre Square. It was only with the arrival of The New York Times offices, as well as the metro, that the history of the square started to take an unexpected turn. Thus, when the Times Tower was erected here in 1904, the square was renamed Times Square.

The building was inaugurated on 31 December, with much fanfare. There were even fireworks involved, planting the seed for what would become a local tradition: celebrating the arrival of the New Year here on the square. This was also the beginning of a strange legend among many travellers and tourists, which says that you have not lived properly if you have not spent New Year's Eve on Times Square at least once. The building, which is already over 100 years old, was later covered in marble and renamed One Times Square Plaza. It is on its roof that, every 31 December, an illuminated “time ball” descends as the crowd assembled on the square counts down to the beginning of the new year.

Another popular attraction among children is the gigantic Toys'R’Us store. You too will no doubt be surprised by the big wheel you will find in its interior.

Another unmissable stop on your way through Times Square is the M&M's World. From its window, giant tubes filled with those chocolate-covered peanuts in different colours invite you to go inside. Once you enter the paradise of M&M's, you may not only find M&M's in all colours, but there are also a whole bunch of merchandising products: T-shirts, keychains, mugs, stuffed animals, hats and anything you can imagine. 

For teenagers, the main attraction is surely the MTV studios that are located here. Often, large groups of young people gather here hoping to be selected by the public to be featured on one of its programmes. At other times, however, teenagers are on the lookout for their favourite singers or musicians, who are giving an interview or performance here.

As you can see, a walk through Times Square is a treat for all your senses. You can enjoy a meal at a good restaurant, go shopping, have fun with the kids or even get an autograph from Lady Gaga.

Although, of course, caution is advised, as it would be in all parts of the world with large crowds of people, today you can safely walk around the area at any time of the day or night, thanks to the excellent work of several civic organisations. This is remarkable as, in 1970, the area had the highest crime rate in all of New York, and was a marginalised area, crowded with petty traders, cabarets and mysterious doors that led visitors to dubious local businesses. Nevertheless, today Times Square is a central area, where New Yorkers assemble when they want to make a statement in unison, or to express mourning or joy. It is a place that hosts numerous artistic, political and social events.  This is the cauldron that stirs up the people of New York. And the city of New York stirs up the rest of the country.

For this reason, we not only advise, but actively encourage you to visit Times Square at night, if you have not already done so, in order to discover the magic of the neon glow at the time that it shines brightest. You will love it.

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