50 Interesting Facts About Times Square

It’s glamorous, it’s glitzy, it’s lively, it’s incredible and it’s right in the center of all the action that takes place in one of America’s biggest cities. Anyone who lives outside of New York has likely heard of Times Square but most likely, the thing they associate with it most is its epic New Year’s Eve celebrations that take place every December 31st.

However, to New Yorkers, Times Square is so much more. It’s a central area where people from all over some to eat, shop, be entertained and be noticed. Times Square is an exciting place that draws in millions of people all year round. Beneath the surface, there’s so much to know about this famous New York attraction and below are some Interesting facts about Times Square.

Times Square
Times Square. Interesting facts about Times Square. Image credit – Steve Guttman NYC

1. Many people who’ve never been to Times Square in New York assume that it’s a small area encompassing one city block. In fact, it encompasses five city blocks and it’s much bigger than most people think!

2. Currently, the air in Times Square is cleaner than it’s ever been because the area has been completely smoke-free since 2011. Disobeying the non-smoking laws that are in place results in a hefty fine that can be avoided by lighting up outside the designated area.

3. Buildings in Times Square are subject to a city bylaw that requires them to have a certain amount of display lighting in order to keep up with the area’s glitzy character.

4. Time’s Square is home to a unique sound art installation. This sound constantly emanates from the subway grate but not many people realize where it’s coming from.

5. The area we know today as Times Square only got that name in 1904. Somehow, the name fits even if it’s not really a square!

6. Times Square was first known as Longacre Square. Doesn’t have much ring to it, does it?

7. The giant Toys R Us store in Times Square has a 60-foot Ferris wheel and a two-story dollhouse. It’s so big and has so many fascinating attractions that they offer guided tours.

8. On August 14th, 1945, the largest crowd in the history of Times Square gathered to celebrate the United States Victory over Japan in World War II.

9. Do you recall seeing a famous war-time victory picture of a sailor kissing a nurse in the street? That epic picture was taken in Times Square on that memorable day in August of 1945.

10. There are six huge hotels located in Times Square including W Times Square, The Crowne Plaza Times Square and The Sheraton New York. These hotels are among the top picks in the whole city.

With the Empire State Building peeking, and Hells Kitchen in the shadows.
With the Empire State Building peeking, and Hells Kitchen in the shadows. Image credit – dog97209

11. In 2009, Times square officially became a mostly pedestrian area which means you can meander around without having to dodge traffic or wait at traffic lights.

12. The Marriott Marquis, which is located in the square, is a revolving restaurant and the only one of this type in the whole city. It’s been said by numerous patrons that the food is quite good too.

13. Times square is a busy place! Around 340,000 pedestrians pass through the area each day.

14. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of people passing through the square dropped to 108,000 which is still a huge number when you are talking about pedestrian traffic.

15. Prior to Covid-19, 200 bus tours stopped in Times Square compared with only one or two bus tours during the pandemic.

16. To all of you who are wondering if the brightly lit Times Square can be seen from space, the answer is “yes”. They may not be able to pick out specific landmarks, but astronauts can certainly see the bright spot where New York City is located on the earth below.

17. One of Times Square’s most well-known street entertainers plays the guitar and goes by the name of “Naked Cowboy”. He frequently parades through the area wearing just enough to avoid being arrested for indecent exposure!

18. It’s rare to see Times Square without any people milling about but if you’d like to see what this usually busy area looks like when it’s empty, watch the movie Vanilla Sky. The square was shut down so the film crew could film some scenes of an empty Times Square.

19. Even though it’s one of the world’s most instagrammed places, there are literally millions of ways to capture a unique photo in Times Square that won’t look like everyone else’s.

New Year's Eve Ball Drop
New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. The new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is a 12 foot geodesic sphere, double the size of previous Balls, and weighs 11,875 pounds. Covered in 2,668 Waterford Crystals and powered by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDS, the new Ball is capable of creating a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns producing a spectacular kaleidoscope effect atop One Times Square. Image credit – ★ SimonPix

20. One is the name of the building used in the infamous, annual New Year’s Eve Ball Drop but the building doesn’t serve any other purpose except to store the ball that is used in the Ball Drop and to serve as a giant billboard that generates more than 23 million dollars a year.

21. Times Square is also known by many nicknames including “The Crossroads of the World”, “The Heart of the Great White Way”, and “The Center of the Universe”.

22. Although this area of New York City is known as Times Square, it’s not a square at all! The shape of it is more triangle than square. Some people even say it resembles the shape of a bow tie.

23. Believe it or not, Times Square is one of the most visited attractions on earth with around 50 million visitors a year. The only attraction that sees more people is the Las Vegas Strip.

24. In the year following the September 11th terrorist attacks, security levels increased and although the threat of another attack was high on city official’s minds, the New Year’s Eve celebrations went ahead on December 31st, 2001 with an added event; Mayor Rudy Giuliani administered the Oath of Office to the new mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

25. Times Square has long been a favorite hangout spot for the rich and famous. Irving Berling, Charlie Chaplin and Fred Astaire were known to frequent the area in the earlier part of the 1900s.

25. Times Square was also known for something else in the earlier part of the 1900s. Crime and corruption crept into the area it would be decades before it was cleaned up to become the beloved place it is today.

Times Square Paramount Theater . facts about Times Square
Times Square Paramount Theater. Facts about Times Square. Image credit – Brecht Bug

26. During the Great Depression, many businesses closed and in their place appeared burlesque clubs, go-go bars, adult theaters, saloons, brothels and dime houses. This gave the area a reputation for being a rough place not suitable for family entertainment.

27. In the years said to be the darkest for Time’s Square, a whopping 2,300 crimes took place just in those five city blocks. Many of these crimes were serious and included murder. There was a time when it wasn’t the family-oriented city square that it is today!

28. Times Square isn’t all shopping and entertainment. There’s something for the history buffs too! It’s home to a visitor Center and museum which is located in the Embassy Theater. This is where you can learn all about the history of Time’s Square before it was even known as that. Learn about the various traditions and epic events that took place there. Learn about historic buildings and businesses that once thrived there. The best thing is it’s free to browse this museum.

29. Did you know that you can have your New Year’s Eve Wish released from Time’s Square? Simply visit the museum and write your wish on some confetti and it will be included with the thousands of others that will be released at that yearly event.

30. The infamous NASDAQ sign cost more than $37 million to build. At almost 40 feet high, it’s the biggest LED sign in the world.

31. The first electric sign was installed in 1917. Originally meant for advertising purposes, the signs in Times Square became such a popular attraction that buildings are now required by city bylaw to be covered in brightly lit billboards.

32. Good Morning America, the popular ABC morning show, broadcasts in front of a live audience in Times Square.

33. In the mood to try a new ethnic cuisine? Craving pizza or a hamburger? Following a vegetarian, vegan or keto diet? Perhaps you’d like to sit down for a gourmet meal in a fine dining establishment? Whatever your preference, whatever you’re craving, you’ll find it in Times Square because there are more than 100 restaurants in just that area.

34. More than 500 movies have been filmed in Times Square.

35. The murals in the Times Square subway station were created by well-known pop culture artist Roy Lichtenstein.

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