Times Square at Night, 1908-2018

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I avoided Times Square when I lived in New York. Most of the city’s residents do – the Square’s too crowded; it’s too loud and bright and far too commercial. That was my general opinion for years, and still is, more or less. But right now I’m missing it.

I didn’t come to appreciate that garish tangle of streets until last year. I returned to the city for a work trip and was put up at a hotel on 46th street and 8th avenue, not far from an AA meeting I enjoy and a few doors down from the Scientology HQ, which I didn’t even know existed. Mel Brooks was performing two buildings further east, closer to 7th avenue and the runoff of Times Square proper.

It was the perfect summer night for a stroll. The Square was as white hot bright as ever; it was chaotic and cacophonous. A replica Back to the Future DeLorean drove by and life-sized cartoon characters jostled for change as a light drizzle fell. It was past 11, but despite the hour and weather, people were still everywhere, strolling, hustling, and gawking – thousands upon thousands of the reasons I once bypassed the so-called Crossroad of the World at all costs.

Today those crossroads are quiet as the Big Apple continues battling the pandemic. As my own lockdown continues I find myself wishing I could be back in the time before, right there in Times Square’s throbbing center – and I’m sure other people do, too, even New Yorkers.

Until we can be there, here are 23 images of Times Square at night, all taken between 1908 and 2018. A lot happened in those 110 years – two world wars, a Great Depression, some recessions, HIV, 9/11, the Great Recession, a super storm, and a whole lot of other shit – and Times Square stood strong: a tinsel testament to humankind’s tenacity and audacity; a glittering epicenter for all people. It will be so again, and will be for decades to come, come hell or high water, for better and for worse. And I look forward to being in the thick of it.

Scrollable version of the slideshow below.

Times Square at night, New York, N.Y., 1911.

 

“Street view from Broadway of Times Square in the distance in the Manhattan borough of New York, New York, 2018,” by Carol Highsmith.

 

“The great white way” B’way south from 42nd St. 1908.

 

Broadway at night from Times Square, New York, N.Y., 1911.

 

Times Square at night, New York, N.Y., 1911.

 

“Times Square from above, Feb. 16, 1932,” by Samuel Gottscho.

 

“Times Square to south at night, 1933,” by Samuel Gottscho.

 

“Times Square to north at night, 1933,” by Samuel Gottscho.

 

“Times Square, the telescope, 1933,” by Samuel Gottscho.

 

“Times Square north at night, New York City, 1934,” by Samuel Gottscho.

 

“Times Sq. at night, 1934,” by Samuel Gottscho.

 

“Times Square, with Astor and Gaiety theaters, Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., 1940”

 

“Times Square, with telescope, and advertisements, 1941,” by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc.

 

“Times Square, Globe marquee, 1941,” by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc.

 

“Times Square, the telescope, 1941,” by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc.

 

“Times Square, Bond Clothes, and Loew’s Criterion, 1941,” by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc.

 

“Times Square, wide shot, toward the vaudeville theater, 1941,” by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc.

 

“Times Square during the wartime dimout at night, 1942,” by Marjory Collins.

 

“Crowd of people, many waving, in Times Square on V-J Day at time of announcement of the Japanese surrender in 1945,” by Dick DeMarsico.

 

“New York City views. Times Square at night I, 1953,” by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc.

 

“Times Square at night II, 1953,” by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc.

 

“Times Square at Night II, 1953,” by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc.

 

“Times Square at Night III, 1953,” by Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc.

“Street view from Broadway of Times Square in the distance in the Manhattan borough of New York, New York, 2018,” by Carol Highsmith.

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