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New York is a vibrant city. You probably have heard, it never sleeps. And as Frank said again and again: "If you can make it here you can make it anywhere."

It's a concrete jungle where dreams are made. More than 8.5 million people from all over the world call the Big Apple home, and another 60 million or so visit it every year.

That happens for a good reason: no matter what you love or which are your interests – art, food, architecture, photography, shopping, sightseeing, theater, music, romance, adventure, exploration – New York is the place where you can find it all and much more.

It's a new surprise on every corner, every day. It's a dream in every heart. Just have your eyes and sensibility open. In New York you can learn a new thing every single day. In New York you can make your dream come true. So, why not give it a try?

Times Square and the 10 Top Secrets of the World's Most Visited Destination

Times Square and the 10 Top Secrets of the World's Most Visited Destination

Say hello to the world's most visited destination–Times Square in New York City. This single attraction hosts more visitors every year than Canada has residents.

As the famous New Year's Eve Ball descends atop One Times Square, an estimated one million people in Times Square, millions nationwide and over a billion watching throughout the world are united in bidding a collective farewell to the departing year, and expressing joy and hope for the year ahead.

10 Top Secrets of the World's Most Visited Destination

By Lucas Compan, a guest storyteller


The economic crash of the early 1970s led to a mass exodus of corporations from Times Square. Billboard niches went dark, stores shut and once grand hotels were converted into single-room occupancy dives, attracting the poor and the destitute. What was once an area bathed in light and showbiz glitz became a dirty den of drug dealers and crime.

That all changed with tough-talking mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who, in the 1990s, forced out the skin flicks, boosted police numbers and lured a wave of 'respectable' retail chains, restaurants and attractions. By the new millennium, Times Square had gone from 'X-rated' to 'G-rated,' drawing around 50 million visitors annually.

Check these 15 top secrets about the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, A.K.A. Times Square.

10. One Times Square is wildly profitable despite being mostly empty

The building at One Time Square

The iconic building at One Times Square is best known for the New Year's Eve ball drop, and in fact, there's little else there. 

It was originally constructed as the New York Times headquarters in 1904, back when the area was largely undeveloped. Lehman Brothers bought the building in 1995, and turned it into the giant billboard it is today. Jamestown Properties, which rents out the three bottom floors and the top floor, where the New Year’s Eve ball is stored year-round, currently owns it. Most of the floors are vacant, covered in graffiti and decrepit, but the billboards generate over $23 million per year.

Infographic source: Wall Street Journal (2012)


9. Why Times Square is called Times Square

Originally known as Long Acre (also Longacre) Square after London’s carriage district, Times Square served as the early site for William H. Vanderbilt’s American Horse Exchange. In the late 1880s, Long Acre Square consisted of a large open space surrounded by drab apartments. Soon, however, the neighborhood began to change. Electricity, in the form of theater advertisements and street lights, transformed public space into a safer, more inviting environment. Likewise, the construction of New York’s first rapid transit system, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT), gave New Yorkers unprecedented mobility in the city. The announcement of the IRT spurred real estate speculation by shrewd businessmen who believed that increased foot traffic in the area would generate profits.

Broadway & 42nd Street, 1898. (Image: courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York)

Longacre Square (Now Times Square), Broadway and 42nd Street, 1900. (Image: Museum of the City of New York)

Adolph S. Ochs, owner and publisher of The New York Times from 1896 to 1935, saw an opportunity and selected a highly visible location to build the Times Tower, which was the second tallest building in the city at the time.

Adolph S. Ochs, owner and publisher of The New York Times from 1896 to 1935 (Image: Museum of the City of New York)

 The New York Times Building Under Construction, 1903. (Image: Museum of the City of New York)

In January 1905, the Times finally moved into their new headquarters, built between Broadway and Seventh Avenue and 42nd and 43rd Streets. The previous spring, Mayor George B. McClellan signed a resolution that renamed the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue from Long Acre Square to Times Square.


8. The New Year’s Ball is stored inside One Times Square All Year Round

As you ascend to the roof of Walgreens Tower at 1 Times Square, you’ll see an access door. Opening it, you’re outside, a glow emanating from atop a flight of stairs. Walk up those steps, and you’re face-to-face with a New York icon: The New Years Eve Ball. Made of Waterford Crystal and LEDs, this 12-foot in diameter ball weighs nearly 12,000 pounds and is completely computer controlled.


7. Times Square uses 161 megawatts of electricity every year

That's enough energy to power approximately 161,000 average U.S. homes and twice the electricity required to power all of the casinos in Las Vegas.

Google's Time Square's largest interactive billboard ever


6. Times Square is not really as big as you think it is

Father Duffy Square

Times Square is generally accepted to be anywhere from Broadway and 40th in the east, 8th Ave. to the west, and 49th St. to the north. In fact, what many consider one of the most iconic parts of Times Square–the bright red TKTS, is not actually part of Times Square. It's Father Duffy Square, who is memorialized with a statue in front of the TKTS booth. Father Duffy was a decorated military chaplain during World War I and then later the pastor of Holy Cross Church on 42nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.

Father Duffy


5. Forty-second Street wasn't always so family-friendly

Times Square back in the 1980s

Despite its iconic and romantic reputation, 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues was anything but that in the 1980s. In fact, that one block accounted for 2,300 crimes in 1984 alone, with twenty percent of those crimes being serious felonies such as murder or rape, as you can see in "New York Back in the 1980s." 

But the same block is now home to Disney's New Amsterdam Theater, which led the Disney revival of the area when it re-opened the historic Beaux-Arts Theater with "The Lion King" in 1997.


4. The confetti on New Year’s Eve contains wishes written on them

Every December 31, more than one million people pack into Time Square to countdown he final moments of the year and watch a six-ton crystal-covered ball light up the sky. And when it does, a whopping one ton of confetti pours down on the crowd. But, these aren;t jus any tiny pieces of paper. They are wishes.

Throughout the month of December, people from all across the globe visit the wishing wall at the Broadway Plaza between 42nd and 43rd Street to write their “wishes” on pieces of official Times Square New Year’s Eve confetti. Sometimes, the messages are personal goals, other times, they are dreams for the future. Then, on December 31, the wishes are collected and added to confetti cannons that shoot out on the crowd gathered down below. Pretty cool, right?

Those that still want to make a wish, but can’t make it to Times Square (we don’t blame you) can visit the online wishing wall and write a message to be included in the New Year's Eve celebrations. But don't share anything you would not want the whole world to potentially read. Throughout the evening of December 31, various wishes are shared on Times Square NYC's official twitter feed and webcast.


3. Adults use diapers during New Year's Eve in Times Square

Yes! That's true. Develop a Bladder of Steel: Wait, steel's inflexible. Make that a bladder of a high-strength, maximum-stretch rubber-like polymer. Because unless you're extremely lucky or very patient, you won't be seeing the inside of a bathroom for a while. Don't expect local restaurants or businesses to be sympathetic to your plight, either–after all, if they make an exception for you, it'll be that much harder to keep the other million or so attendees from hogging their toilets.

So go to the bathroom before you find your place in Times Square. Or be lucky enough to have a friend who lives nearby who'll let you use his or her bathroom. Or better yet, wear an adult diaper, like more folks than you'd care to know do.

Or... Don't go. That's the first piece of advice any New Yorker will give you when you tell them you want to see the ball drop in Times Square.


2. The Happiest Happy Hours


Jimmy's Corner on 140 W 44th St between Broadway & 7th Ave

If you want to spend $20 for a martini, be my guest. But there's a hidden gem in the heart of Times Square that New Yorkers love to go: Jimmy's Corner.

So, when you visit Times Square,  make it a point to hit up Jimmy's Corner, founded by boxing trainer Jimmy Glenn in 1971. Here the jukebox plays jazz, there's always a seat at the bar and $3 pints.

The only dive bar in Times Square is a lot of fun

Jimmy Glenn is the owner, always interacting with patrons

Tons of currency bills from all around the world

A lot of history on the walls. 

Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Glenn at the bar in 1972


1. The Famous Sailor Kiss

A sailor sweeps a nurse off her feet with a kiss in New York’s Times Square in this famous photograph taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt on the day Japan surrendered to end World War II. (AP Photo/copyright-Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Magazine)

On August 14, 1945, Alfred Eisenstaedt took a picture of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, minutes after they heard of Japan’s surrender to the United States. Two weeks later LIFE magazine published that image.

It became one of the most famous WWII photographs in history (and the most celebrated photograph ever published in the world’s dominant photo-journal), a cherished reminder of what it felt like for the war to finally be over.

LIFE magazine cover (Copyright-Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Magazine)

Everyone who saw the picture wanted to know more about the nurse and sailor, but Eisenstaedt had no information and a search for the mysterious couple’s identity took on a dimension of its own.

George Mendonsa, the sailor, 22 years-old in August 1945.

Greta Zimmer, the nurse, 21 years-old in August 1945

For almost two decades Lawrence Verria and George Galdorisi, authors of the book "The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind the Photo that Ended World War II" were intrigued by the controversy surrounding the identity of the two principals in Eisenstaedt’s most famous photograph and collected evidence that began to shed light on this mystery. With this book, the authors solve the 67-year-old mystery by providing irrefutable proof to identify the couple in Eisenstaedt’s photo.

George and his wife: circled in red (left) and in 2011.

But the intriguing part is that George (the sailor) and Greta (the nurse) were not actually a couple. At that time, George was going out on a first date with another woman, Rita Petry–who later became his wife. You can spot her on the picture looking over his shoulder.

Memories: George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman reunited in Times Square, the location of their famous kiss, to reflect on the inspiring photograph that came to symbolize the end of the war (Photo: CBS News)

Rita Petry says she's never been mad that on their first date, husband George Mendonsa kissed a woman he thought was a nurse to celebrate the end of WWII. Mr. Mendonsa died of natural causes in 2013. He was 86.

The sailor and the nurse pictured kissing in 1945, were reunited in Times Square 67 years later–in August 2012.


Bonus Secrets


. There's a 1930 Bus Station Hidden in Hotel Carter

The Hotel Carter used to be Hotel Dixie. It was open in 1930 and served as a bus depot for the Central Union Bus Terminal. Buses would enter on West 43rd and then go underground to a turntable on the ground, which is still visible today.

Central Union Bus Terminal, on West 43rd, is still visible today.


. The Hidden Sound Art

Between Broadway and Seventh Avenue (45th and 46th Streets) there's a hidden sound installation under a subway grade that's been mystifying New Yorkers since 1977. Max Neuhaus was the "sound sculptor" behind the installation, which emanates a percussion sound when passersby walk over the subway ventilation grate.

A short video made in honor of Max Neuhaus, and a trip to go see his "Times Square" sound installation. Filmed, written and edited by Adel Souto. adelsouto.com


. The Hidden Sushi Bar

Sake Bar Hagi features authentic Japanese fare but what makes it's storefront is hidden. So, it's not packed with tourists, a rarity for a Times Square restaurant.

Sake Bar Hagi on 152 W 49th St

 


. Great View

R Lounge at 2 Times Square is 26 stories above Times Square is probably the best and most chilled view of Times Square


. The Midnight Moment

Every night at 11:57PM, fifteen screen in Times Square shut down at the same time and display art for three minutes. It's called the "Midnight Moment".


PROFESSIONAL GUIDED WALKING TOUR MIDTOWN MANHATTAN


. Times Square As Never Seen Before

Vincent Laforet's latest photo mission — to photograph New York City at night from above — was "the scariest of my life," he tells. In order to take the photographs, Laforet had to dangle from the door of a helicopter hovering at a dizzying 7,500 feet above the ground (an uncommonly high altitude for a helicopter), secured only by a harness, and shoot straight down.

Click here to see impressive aerial photos of Times Square.

Photo series, titled “Gotham 7.5K” by Vincent Laforet

Photo series, titled “Gotham 7.5K” by Vincent Laforet

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