What was the previous name of Times Square before it was called Times Square?

Tourist Attractions

By Kristy Tolley

The evolution of Times Square

Times Square is one of the most iconic landmarks in New York City. Known for its vibrant lights, bustling crowds, and lively atmosphere, it attracts millions of visitors each year. However, before it became known as Times Square, the area went through several name changes and transformations. This article explores the history of Times Square’s name and its evolution over time.

Early years: A different name for the area

Before the area now known as Times Square was developed, it was largely farmland. In the late 18th century, a road was built through the area, which eventually became known as Bloomingdale Road. This road was the main route for travelers heading north from Manhattan. The area surrounding the road was sparsely populated and often referred to as Longacre Square, after the London district of the same name. Longacre Square became a hub for the city’s horse and carriage industry, with numerous stables and carriage houses located in the area.

Dutch origins: The origins of the name

The name Bloomingdale Road has Dutch origins, dating back to the 17th century when the area was part of New Amsterdam. The Dutch called the area "Bloemendaal," which means "valley of flowers" in English. The road was originally built to connect the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam with the northern Dutch colony of New Haarlem.

British rule: The name changes

When the British took control of New Amsterdam in the late 17th century, they renamed the road "The Kingsbridge Road." This name remained in use until the American Revolution when it was changed back to Bloomingdale Road.

19th century: A new name for the neighborhood

In the early 1800s, the area around Bloomingdale Road began to develop into a residential neighborhood. The name Longacre Square was used to describe the area between 42nd and 47th streets, where numerous carriage manufacturers and livery stables were located. The name Longacre was a nod to London’s Long Acre district, which was also known for its carriage industry.

Growing popularity: The district’s new identity

By the late 19th century, Longacre Square had become a popular destination for entertainment and shopping. The area was home to several theaters, including the Olympia, the American, and the Empire. The name Longacre Square was no longer fitting for the area’s new identity, and a new name was needed.

The Great White Way: Broadway takes over

In 1902, the New York Evening Telegram referred to the area as "The Great White Way" in reference to the bright lights of the theater district. The name caught on, and soon the area between 42nd and 53rd streets on Broadway was known as The Great White Way.

The Roaring Twenties: Times Square takes shape

In the 1920s, the area underwent significant changes with the construction of several new buildings and the expansion of the subway system. The name Times Square began to be used interchangeably with The Great White Way.

Naming the area: The birth of Times Square

In 1904, the New York Times moved its headquarters to the newly constructed Times Tower, located in the heart of The Great White Way. To celebrate the move, the newspaper held a New Year’s Eve celebration in the square, which included a fireworks display. The event was so successful that it became an annual tradition, and the area became known as Times Square.

20th century: Times Square becomes an icon

Throughout the 20th century, Times Square continued to evolve and grow, becoming a symbol of American culture and entertainment. It was home to numerous theaters, restaurants, and shops, as well as iconic billboards and neon signs.

Changes and challenges: Times Square today

In recent years, Times Square has undergone significant changes, including the removal of many of its iconic billboards and the redevelopment of several key buildings. The area continues to face challenges such as overcrowding and security concerns but remains a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

Conclusion: The legacy of Times Square’s name

The name Times Square has become synonymous with New York City and is recognized around the world. Its evolution from a rural farmland to a bustling entertainment district is a testament to the city’s growth and development. Despite the challenges it faces, Times Square’s legacy continues to shine brightly, attracting visitors from all over the globe.

Photo of author

Kristy Tolley

Kristy Tolley, an accomplished editor at TravelAsker, boasts a rich background in travel content creation. Before TravelAsker, she led editorial efforts at Red Ventures Puerto Rico, shaping content for Platea English. Kristy's extensive two-decade career spans writing and editing travel topics, from destinations to road trips. Her passion for travel and storytelling inspire readers to embark on their own journeys.

Leave a Comment