Joined: Feb 15, 2003
From: San Diego, Ca.
|Posted: 2005-04-08 08:11 am  Permalink|
On April 8, 1904, Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. renamed the area known as Longacre Square as Times Square following the arrival of The New York Times to the Building now known as One Times Square. Times publisher Adolph S. Ochs had moved the paper's operations to the then new tower on 42nd Street & persuaded Mayor McClellan to build a subway stop there and rename the area Times Square. Just three weeks later, the first advertisement appeared on the side of a bank at the corner of 46th Street and Broadway.
Although The Times moved out of the tower in 1913, it's still in the area (they're currently building a new tower at 41st St. & 8th Ave.), the name Times Square stuck.
On January 1, 1907, a ball signifying New Year's Day was first dropped at Times Square, and ever since the Square has been the site of the main New Year's celebration in New York City. On this night hundreds of thousands of people congregate to watch the Waterford crystal ball being lowered to the ground marking the new year. It replaced a lavish fireworks display from the top of the building that had been held from 1904 to 1906, but was outlawed by city officials. During World War II, a minute of silence, followed by a recording of church bells pealing, replaced the ball drop because of wartime blackout restrictions.
Times Square quickly grew as a cultural hub full of theaters, music halls, and fancy hotels. "Times Square quickly became New York's agora, a place to gather both to await great tidings and to celebrate them, whether a World Series or a presidential election," writes James Traub in The Devil's Playground: A Century of Pleasure and Profit in Times Square. Names such as Irving Berlin, Fred Astaire, and Charlie Chaplin were closely associated with Times Square in the 1910s and 1920s.
The atmosphere changed with the onset of the Great Depression during the 1930s, slowly getting dirtier & more dangerous. Although the Broadway theaters remained bright & drew large crowds, and many of the great hotels stayed open, many were were becoming smaller, dingier movie houses & fleabag hotels. Times Square became a neighborhood full of "peep shows", erotic all-night movie houses, and stores selling cheap tourist merchandise. The seediness of Times Square was a famous symbol of New York City's danger and corruption during the period from the 1960s until the 1990s. Influential and dark films such as Midnight Cowboy and Taxi Driver had many scenes in Times Square. In the mid-1990s, Mayor Rudy Giuliani (1994-2002) led the effort to clean up the area, including closing up sex shops, increasing security, and opening more tourist-friendly attractions. The cleaning process began when the local government issued an injunction against the tight clustering of the porn shops in the 42nd Street area. Many of the sex shops closed or moved to industrial areas in Brooklyn or Queens. More recently, such establishments have been shut down and more up-scale establishments have opened there.
The theaters of Broadway and the huge number of gaudy animated neon and television-style signage have long made it one of New York's iconic images, and a symbol of the intensely urban aspects of Manhattan. Times Square is the only neighborhood with a zoning ordinance requiring tenants to display bright signs. The density of illuminated signs in Times Square now rivals Las Vegas.
In 1998 the Times Square Alliance (formerly the Times Square Business Improvement District, or "BID" for short), a coalition of businesses dedicated to improving the quality of commerce and cleanliness in the district, started operations in the area. Times Square now boasts attractions as a major TV studio for ABC, where Good Morning America is broadcast live, a Toys "R" Us store, as well as restaurants such as Ruby Foo's (Chinese food), the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (seafood) and Carmine's (Italian) along with a number of multiplex movie theaters. It is also attracting a number of financial institutions. A larger police presence in Times Square has improved the safety of the area. While the revitalized region is undoubtedly safer and more pleasant, some complain that the area has lost its spark and is now a thoroughly sanitized, "Disneyfied" version of its former self.
In 2002, NYC's outgoing mayor, Rudy Giuliani, gave the oath of office to the city's next mayor Michael Bloomberg in Times Square after midnight on January 1 as part of the New Year's celebration. In 2001, approximately 500,000 revelers attended the fete. Security was high following the September 11, 2001 attacks with over 7,000 New York City police on duty in the Square (twice the number for an ordinary year).
Other historical Highlights for Today are:
- 563 BC - Gautama Buddha, religious leader, is Born (d. 483 BC)
- 1742 - The first performance of George Frideric Handel's oratorio The Messiah, in Dublin.
- 1820 - The Venus de Milo is discovered on the Aegean island of Melos by a peasant named Yorgos. He hid it from the authorities but was later discovered by Turkish officials, who seized the sculpture. A French naval officer, Jules Dumont d'Urville, recognized its significance and arranged for a purchase by the French ambassador to Turkey The Marquis de Riviere. After some repairing, the statue was presented to King Louis XVIII, who eventually presented it to the Louvre museum in Paris, where it is now.
- 1892 - Mary Pickford, actress, studio founder, known as "America's Sweetheart", is Born. (d. 1979)
- 1912 - Sonja Henie, Olympic and World Champion figure skater, is Born (d. 1969 of Leukemia)
- 1929 - Jacques Brel, French singer and composer, is Born (No longer "Alive & Well," d. 1978)
- 1938 - Joe "King" Oliver, jazz musician, died (b. 1885)
- 1940 - John Havlicek, Boston Celtics basketball star, is Born
- 1950 - Vaslav Nijinsky, ballet dancer, died (b. 1890)
- 1954 - Gary Carter, NY Mets baseball catcher & Hall of Fame member, is Born
- 1960 - John Schneider, actor (Bo Duke on Dukes of Hazard), is Born
- 1963 - Julian Lennon, musician and singer, is Born
- 1967 - In Vienna, Austria, Sandie Shaw wins the twelfth Eurovision Song Contest for the United Kingdom singing "Puppet on a String".
- 1968 - Patricia Arquette, actress, and a friend of my older Daughter, is Born
- 1973 - Pablo Picasso dies near Cannes
[*}1974 - At the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Hank Aaron breaks baseball great's Babe Ruth's record by hitting his 715th home run.
- 1994 - Body of Kurt Cobain discovered in his Washington home.
- 1996 - Ben Johnson, Academy Award winning Western actor, died (b. 1918)
- 2000 - Claire Trevor, Academy Award winning actress (for Key Largo), died (b. 1910)
- 2005 - Funeral of Pope John Paul II
Rev. Dr. Frederick J. Freelance, Ph.D., Th.D., D.F.S