If you are in New York for summer solstice, check out “Mind over Madness”, a mass yoga event in Times Square that draws over 15,000 people
Found at the junction of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, Times Square is an iconic intersection in Midtown Manhattan. Once known as Longacre Square, it was renamed in 1904 when The New York Times moved its headquarters to the Times Building, the site of the annual ball drop to celebrate the turn of New Year — a tradition that has run for over a hundred years.
Times Square is famous for its adverts: Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Chevrolet — big names; bigger money. Huge electric billboards span the faces of surrounding buildings, emitting so much light that it never really seems like night here: it simply alternates between sunlight and electric glow.
The fortunes of Times Square have been up and down over the 20th Century — it wasn’t always so glamorous. It became a hub for advertising in the 1920s, with the famous Wrigley Spearmint Gum sign then costing over $9000 per month to rent. It became a symbol of mass consumerism and decadence: Thorstein Veblen, author of “Conspicuous Consumption”, was unsurprisingly disparaging about it, and Fritz Lang used it as inspiration for his dark industrial film “Metropolis”.
Between the 1960s-90s, Times Square was seen as a gritty, desperate place — as depicted in “Midnight Cowboy”, starring Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman as a naïve gigolo and a wily pimp (guess who was what). The decay seemed complete: formerly elegant movie theatres became porn cinemas, hustlers ruled the streets and the area was almost totally abandoned.
Since then, it has been completely rejuvenated. The square now boasts a wealth of restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as two giant Hershey’s and M&M’s stores. A number of large financial, publishing and media firms have moved back into the area, all adding to the thrumming sense of energy. Symbolically, it is now also where “Good Morning America” is broadcast live. Which seems fitting, for the restored heart of New York.
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