Dont go to Times Square expecting an intimate, charming, New York City experience. Do go expecting to be smushed, overstimulated, and struck with the sudden urge to buy Snapple, a bag of M & Ms, or a designer imposter purse. Times Square one of the worlds most famed squares, and therefore a must-see site on your New York City visit.
Know Before You Go
As some truly savvy readers may recognize, this reviews title is a quote from The Office and patently false. Times Square is in fact named for the Times Building which formerly housed the New York Times. The square was first recognized in 1904 and celebrated New Years Eve with its first ball drop three years later. After rising in popularity through the first half of the century, Times Square fell into crime and decay in the 60s and 70s. Revitalization efforts in the late 1900s turned Times Square back into a desirable tourist destination, primarily through heavy commercialization. Today, Times Square is a giant neon mecca for NYC visitors of all ages and nationalities.
Logistically, Times Square is not difficult to access unless one is foolish enough to drive a car into the heart of New York City. Whether traveling by foot, bus, or subway, you should be able to find this tremendously popular area of the city with little difficulty. I personally suggest trying to spend a night near the square so as to be able to see its lights and action at various times of the day. JSIndygirl and I nabbed the Westin Times Square for a steal on Hotwire and had a wonderful experience there.
Times Square itself is located at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. It is in fact much more of a narrow rectangle than a square, which I was somewhat surprised about. Squares tend to be more
square. Regardless, the first is still pretty impressive. Gigantic brightly colored signs, both moving and stationary, advertise everything from soft drinks to upcoming movies and television shows. They are literally crammed into every available space and sometimes even stacked on top of each other. The effect is completely and totally LOUD, which is sort of wonderful.
Major Players In the Square
The penny-pinching theatregoer should head straight to the Times Square TCKTS booth, where Broadway tickets for any given evening can purchased at tremendous savings. Megastore options include Virgin, M&Ms World, Toys R Us, and my personal favorite, a Sephora large enough to thrill even such savvy make-up aficionados as my fellow Epinions Beauty reviewers. Teeny boppers with money to burn can stop in at the MTV Store or Quicksilver. Planet Hollywood, the popular, overpriced, celebrity-themed burger chain also has an imposing presence which appears to lure tourists like flies to a venus flytrap.
Bewildered visitors can also pop into the Times Square Visitors Center to send an email, get restaurant or show recommendations, or simply catch their breath in the midst of the hustle and bustle on the street.
While Times Square is certainly one of New York Citys must-see offerings, my recommendation to GO! comes with a few caveats. The problem with an attraction based almost entirely upon advertising for various major brands is that after one admires the crush of humanity and the bright, blinking lights, there is little to do besides dropping lots of money doing shopping of the very bland chain variety. I also shudder at the concept that anyone would waste a meal in this gastronomic wonderland at an Olive Garden or T.G.I. Fridays, however flashy the signage. You're in New York! Don't eat at Hooters!
Despite these gripes, I loved my multiple walks through Times Square during my visit to New York. I enjoyed the peaceful quiet of the square in the morning, the bright gaudiness of it midday, and the carnivalesque neon of it in the evening. Theres nothing on earth quite like Times Square, and one simply needs to see it to believe it.
*For a great stay in Times Square, check out the Westin!
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