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Empire State Building, Times Square and Broadway

Empire State Building, Times Square and Broadway (Episode #65)


Buon giorno and welcome to A Road Retraveled!

Today we continue our travels through New York City to explore the Empire State Building, Times Square (both during the day and night as it’s spectacular both times), and of course, the famous Broadway!



Empire State Building


Manhattan Bird's Eye View

Bird’s Eye View of Manhattan


With the invention of the elevator by Elijah Otis in the mid 1800′s, buildings took on new heights as construction was no longer limited to just 4 stories or so. And as New York became the business capital of the world at the turn of the 20, century, population exploded to the point that Manhattan’s 22 square miles were not enough. So the only way to build was up! And with the new steel frame construction, architects and engineers had their work cut out for them to create new systems such as plumbing and heating.

Not everyone back then was excited about the possibility of sky scrapers, and thanks to foreboding sci-fi prophecies depicting futuristic buildings that will block out the sun. In order to prevent that possibility, zoning regulations  took place and measures were taken to construct buildings that taper towards the top, like the Rockefeller Center, Chrystler Building, and Empire State Building.

The Empire State Building was named after New York’s nickname: The Empire State. The construction plan for the Empire State Building was born from the question: “How big can you build it without it falling down?“  This legendary skyscraper was built on what used to be the old Waldorf Hotel.  If you’ve ever wondered how can Manhattan sustain such a conglomerate of skyscrapers and not sink under its own weight, it’s geologically sound since it lays on a millions of years old thick layer of  sturdy granite bedrock that stretches beneath Manhattan. A bit of Irish luck didn’t hurt the Empire State Building, since  construction began on March 17. 1930 – St Patrick’s Day.

A few stats worth mentioning:

25 million dollars
60,000 tons of steel
102 stories high growing at an average of  4 1/2 stories a week
 10 million bricks
6,500 windows
7 million  man hours of work from  some 4,000 men…including members of the Mohawk Tribe. These natural born Native American skywalkers are said to have walked across steel beams at soaring heights as easily as walking on the ground. They also incorporated their physical labor into their spirituality.

 After its completion in 1 year and 45 days, the Empire State Building was officially the tallest building in the world.  Luring tenants into the new building look more than ingenious marketing plans…it took  King Kong to get people’s attention! Soon the Empire State Building and the neighborhood around it became fashionable, attracted tourists world wide, and ultimately became the emblem of New York. Today, the Empire State Building prides itself in having not only full occupancy with over 1000 global businesses, but its own zipcode.  And by the way, at the street level is the best Strabucks I’ve been to in NY!!

I bought a ticket that takes me to the observatory on the 86th floor. For an additional fee, you can go up to the 102 floor (check recent prices, the prices I paid were in 2009) .  I also got a ticket for an audio tour from Tony, a virtual New York character from 50 years ago that gives you the low down of the area from HIS perspective.  The line to get to the ticket counters and then to the elevator are pretty long, but well worth the effort.

From up here you get a bird’s eye view of New York below. You can see Macy’s and Herald Square where the Thanksgiving Day Parade ends.  On your way out, you pass through a gift show, and when you exit on 34th street, go left to Broadway and make a right….that will take us to our next destination: Times Square


Times Square 


Times Square at night

Times Square at night


Times Square is the iconic intersection at the junction of Broadway and 7th Avenue, stretching from West 42nd to West 47th Streets.

Before it became Times Square, it was known as Longacre Square. It got its new name in 1094 after the old office building of the New York Times, now known as One Times Square – the 25 story building at 42nd and Broadway, which is famed for the New Year’s Eve ball that drops from a tower on its roof.

As New York City grew, Times Square grew into a cultural center full of  upscale hotels, theaters and music halls. Although the most desirable location in Manhattan star studded with famous actors of the 1920′s, Times Square was also besieged with crime, corruption, and prostitution. The Great Depression caused it to decline even more, and in the decades that followed, it was considered a dangerous and seedy neighborhood riddled with adult business and illicit behavior. And it was like this till the early 1990′s!!

Thanks to the efforts of New York Mayer Rudolph Giuliani, an intense clean-up took place and zoning regulations were implemented to shut down adult businesses and porn theaters, crack down on drug pushers and crime,  increase security, and Disney-fy the character of Times Square by restoring buildings and bringing in tourist-friendly attractions and upscale establishments like you enjoy now!

Some notable attractions in Times Square are the dizzying display of dazzling advertisements and newscrawlers. And notable companies in the area are:

The Hard Rock Cafe,  the Virgin Megastore, MTV, Toys R US, and ESPN. The only non-Disneyfied attraction in Times Square is the Naked Cowboy who, by the looks of the crowd he gathers,  is the start of Times Square!  But of course I want to check out my FAVORITE Times Square attractions: the M&M and Hershey Stores! Yumm….chocolate!! How can you go wrong??

Every New Year’s Eve, Times Square fills up with thousands of people gathering here to welcome the New Year and watch the Ball fall at midnight. The rest of us can watch it on TV inside our warm and cozy homes!

Fun as Times Square is during the day, it takes on a whole new personality that lights up at night!




Although there are many streets named named Broadway, there’s only ONE that matters most: the famous Manhattan street right off of Times Square!

And thank goodness for whoever came up with the name Broadway at the end of 19th century, because originally, this road was named Wickquasgeck Road, after the trail  that the Native Americans carved out through what used to be wilderness.  The Dutch came long in the 1600′s and renamed it Heerestraat. Probably because they couldn’t pronounce Wickquasgeck either!! Broadway, the english translation of the Dutch name Breede Weg,  sounds way better than all its previous names!

Although Broadway runs the length of Manhattan from Bowling Green at the South to Inwood at the north, the spot that’s REALLY famous is near Times Square where it crosses 7th Avenue and is the home of numerous Broadway theaters that offer a spectacular array of plays and musicals.

But like its neighbor, Times Square, Broadway was NOT always this glitzy and glamourous. Inspite of all the lights you see now, back in the ’60′s and 70′s the only light it was known for was the Red Light, as in the district, if ya know what I mean. It too was Disneyfied along side Times Square.  If you want to grab a sit down Happy Meal check out Broadway’s McDonalds!!  All those lights, and not a single light bulb  gone out.


Thank you for joining me today in New York. Until next time, ciao for now!!

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