Photo via Richard BURGER/Flickr
One of the true marks of a New Yorker is an aversion to Times Square, where slow-walking out-of-towners clog sidewalks, costumed characters try to hug you for tips, and overpriced suburban chains like Olive Garden and Applebees abound. But a few bright spots exist amid the touristy madness and Broadway shows, and they’re worth a visit if you happen to be in the area, if not a specific trip (seriously, avoid Times Square at all costs if you can).
Here are a few of our favorites
A crowd in Times Square; screenshot via TheLazyCowOnUTube
In 1904, the New York Times moved from the City Hall are to the triangular piece of land at the intersection of 7th Avenue, Broadway, and 42nd Street. People thought they were crazy for moving so far uptown, but this was the same year the first subway line opened, passing through what was then called Longacre Square. Not only did their new Times Tower have a printing press in the basement (they loaded the daily papers right onto the train and got the news out faster than other papers), but it was the second-tallest building in the city at the time. To honor this accolade, the company wanted to take over the city’s former New Year’s Eve celebration at Trinity Church, and since the church elders hated people getting drunk on their property, they gladly obliged. So to ring in 1905, the Times hosted an all-day bash of 200,000 people that culminated in a midnight fireworks display, and thus the first New Year’s Eve in Times Square was born. But it wasn’t until a few years later that the famous ball drop became tradition.
Get the full history in this video
Rendering of the Palace Theatre entrance via Maefield Development
Two years since the plan’s approval by the LPC, the redevelopment of the historic Palace Theatre at 1568 Broadway is nearly ready to take off. The theater will be raised 29 feet above its current level, making room for 70,000 square feet of new retail and entertainment space. With help earlier this month from L&L Holding Company, who became an equity and development partner, the ambitious project continues to progress; as CityRealty discovered, new renderings show the theater enveloped by an expanded Doubletree Guest Suites hotel, a new glass facade, and a sweeping LED screen at its podium. And though the gilded Beaux-Arts interiors will be preserved (they’re interior landmarks), some preservationists have expressed concerns that moving the actual structure is a bit too aggressive.
Find out more
Image via Wiki Commons
The day after Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo announced plans to review and remove controversial public Confederate structures and markers throughout the city, the MTA says it will do the same. Well, sort of. Over 90 years ago, station architect Squire J. Vickers installed mosaics resembling the Confederate flag at the 40th Street entrance for the 1, 2, 3 trains to honor early New York Times owner and publisher Adolph S. Ochs, who had “strong ties to the Confederacy” and was buried with a Confederate flag when he died in 1935. But yesterday, MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz told Gothamist, “These are not confederate flags, it is a design based on geometric forms that represent the ‘Crossroads of the World’ and to avoid absolutely any confusion we will modify them to make that absolutely crystal clear.”
Minimodel maven Eiran Gazit’s latest project is anything but small: The former Israeli soldier and his team are putting the finishing touches on Gulliver’s Gate, a sprawling exhibit of the world made of minimodels set to open on April 4 in a 49,000-square-foot space at 216 West 44th Street in Times Square, reports Crain’s. The $40 million extravaganza represents a decade of dreams and hard work for Gazit, in this case the chief dreamer, plus years of seeking investors, coordinating with dozens of artists around the world and months of installation.
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Ten affordable apartments, literally steps away from Times Square, will be up for grabs starting tomorrow for qualifying applicants. Located at 301 West 46th Street, the units are part of the newly-opened Riu Times Square, a $106 million luxury hotel development that includes eight condos and an HPD housing component that distributes the ten aforementioned below-market units across seven floors of the 29-story tower. Rents start at $1,486/month for two-bedrooms, and $1,709/month for three-bedrooms. Apartments have been priced for households of two to six people earning between $52,355 and $84,100.
More info here
Mayor de Blasio first started pushing to corral the costumed characters and topless performers in Times Square last August, and now almost a year later work has begun on a reconfiguration of the area, reports the Daily News. A preliminary map that divided the plazas into three zones was released in September, but a new, final version was issued on Wednesday. Called “TSq Plaza Rules Cheat Sheet,” it splits the tourist mecca into Chill Zones (places to “sit, nosh, meditate, take in the sites”), De$ignated Activity Zones (“commercial activities, street entertainment, posing for photos, vendors of expressive matter… in exchange for compensation, donation, or tips”), and Express Lanes (“pedestrian through lanes, NYC style”). After the City Council passed legislation eight weeks ago that gave the Department of Transportation the power to relocate the performers and ticket sellers, workers began painting the colored lines to delineate the zones on Wednesday night.
See the full map
Shanghai-based architecture firm 100architects noticed how New Yorkers are always trying to get out of Times Square as fast as possible, which made them wonder if there was a way to engage people in the urban setting without them having to deal with the chaos at street level. That’s where their proposal for Vertical Times comes in (h/t Architizer). The 180-foot-tall tower is a stack of six cylindrical glass pods along a central column that “multiplies the intended space for public recreation in a vertical way.” Within these spaces would be a carousel, ball pit, hammock plaza, sky garden, restaurant, and bar.
Get the rest of the details
Today’s your last chance to catch three professional climbers and one “daredevil amateur” scale a 100-foot-tall billboard in Times Square. The three-dimensional advertisement is for Toyota’s new RAV4 Hybrid and features a scale-able rock-climbing wall that rises ten stories and is mounted along the northeast corner of the DoubleTree Hotel at 1568 Broadway (47th Street and 7th Avenue).
The wall has a 96-foot vertical climb with more than 100 hand holds for the team of five climbers, made up of Christina Fate and her fiance, RAV4 Rally driver Ryan Millen, David Morton, an expert climber and technical consultant for the project, and veteran ice climbers and mountain guides Eric and Adam Knoff.
Should more interactive advertisements come to Times Square?
Automat by Berenice Abbott, 1936
In the 1930s, ‘40s, and ‘50s Automats were a New York City dining staple for a hard-working lunch crowd, a modernist icon for a boundless machine-age future. At their height there were over three dozen in the city, serving 800,000 people a day. And nearly everyone who actually experienced Automats in their heyday says the same thing: They never forgot the thrill of being a kid at the Automat.
Created by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart in Philadelphia in 1902, coin-operated Automats were lovingly-designed Art Deco temples to modern efficiency. Sleek steel and glass vending machine grids displayed sandwiches and main dishes as well as desserts and sides, each in their own little boxes, square and even, clean and well-lit. You put a coin in the slot, opened the door and removed your food—which was reportedly quite good, as the founders took terrific pride in their craft.
What was it about the experience that made for such a lasting memory?