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Times Square

Times Square is a bow-tie shaped plaza that surrounds 7th Avenue and Broadway in midtown Manhattan.  The area has become a cultural icon around the world and is quite reasonably called "the crossroads of the world".  For most Americans, Times Square is where "the ball drops" at the end of New Year's Eve, initiating the new year.

Over the last few decades, the  area known as Times Square has grown significantly and it is now celebrated as a business district rather than being limited to the smallish intersection that is the actual Times Square. 

There are approximately forty hotels in this area that offer a variety of accommodation and represent twenty-five percent of the hotel rooms in New York City.  The Times Square area is a popular location and you might consider this area for your lodging during a visit to New York.

While native New Yorkers seem to avoid Times Square (other than on New Year’s Eve), tourists flock to it in droves regardless of the season. 

It is estimated that 80% of the 47 million tourists that visit New York City each year visit Times Square.  Surrounded by a gazillion, glaring neon-signs advertising almost every international consumer brand you have ever heard of, Times Square is an amazing sight.  For tourists, arriving at Times Square is somehow  uniquely meaningful, as if it proclaims your “official” entry to New York and in some strange way, reminds one of the welcome of an old friend you have been aware of your entire life, but never met. 

Times Square received its current name  in 1904 after the New York Times newspaper moved its headquarters to the building now known  as One Times Square, which is the location where the  ball drops during the countdown to the New Year at Times Square.  Information on the New Year's festivities can be found at the official website of New Year's Eve  at Times Square.

Although it had an unsavory reputation  until approximately twenty years ago, Times Square has been revitalized and is one the leading tourist areas in New York City.  The list of stores,  snack shops, restaurants (over 200) and modest attractions is never-ending and the flashing lights add a buzz that helps make Times Square a favorite with tourists. 

It's not so much that there is anything truly unique to do at Times Square, it's just that the fun things to do are in such abundance that it makes your head swirl.  Of course, the crowd, the buzz and the fun that you can have while exploring add to the magnetism of the area.

To help you take it all in, the city has made the center of Times Square pedestrian only and built tiered seating in the center of the pedestrian  area, so that you can take a rest and snap a photo or two while you gather the resolve to continue your exploration. 

Just one more Times Square tidbit - The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade traditionally passes down 7th Avenue through the Times Square area.  For 2012 it has been proposed that the Parade will turn on 6th Avenue instead, bypassing Times Square and its hotels, which were prime viewing platforms.  Needless to say, the proposed change is being debated.  Check local websites for details on the actual parade route.

The Theatre District

The heart of Broadway (sometimes called “The Great White Way”) and the city’s Theatre District surround Times Square, although most theatres are located between Broadway and Eighth Avenue from 40th Street north to 53rd.  Not only are the shows top rate, but many of the facilities are stunning. 

You can find a detailed map containing the locations and names of the Broadway theatres and many of the shops in the Times Square area at this page of the official Times Square website (the map, which is downloadable as a PDF is titled District Map and is near the bottom of the page on the website referenced).

There is a TKTS booth under the tiered seats in the center of the pedestrian area at Broadway and Seventh Avenue, and it is here that you can buy discounted tickets for performances of Broadway and off-Broadway plays and musicals on that day (advanced reservations are not available at this booth).   TKTS is part of the Theatre Development Fund that supports theatrical arts and enables diverse audiences to attend live theatre and dance events. 

Nearby, at the 6,000 square-foot Times Square Visitor Center  (housed in the Embassy Theater) you can purchase tickets in-advance for Broadway shows, memorabilia related to your visit, as well as city tours and find information on many of the tourist attractions in New York City.  The Times Square Visitor Center is located on 7th Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets. Opening hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

The official website of the Times Square Alliance can be found here and it is almost as busy as the Square itself.

Discovery Times Square

A new addition to the Times Square area is the Discovery Network's Discovery Times Square.  Known as Discovery TSX,  this is a large exhibition center that bills itself as "More than a Museum" and the high ticket price may be proof of that statement.

Located in a large space that once housed the printing presses used to publish the New York Times, the Discovery TSX is a showplace for exhibitions custom packaged by the Discovery Network. By all accounts the exhibits are fantastic and very popular.  More information on what's on can be found at the official Discovery TSX website. 

Discovery Times Square is open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., although the last entry is one-hour prior to closing. You can find Discovery at 226 West 44th Street between Broadway and  8th Avenue, directly across from Shubert Alley.

 

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