Times Square History: The Weird Story Of The Evolution Of New York's Tourist Mecca


(Byron Company/Wikimedia Commons)

Anyone who visits New York City is bound to make their way to Times Square, the mecca of tourism in the Big Apple. Once the scene of unbridled debauchery, the hot spot has since been sanitized in more ways than one, but Times Square hasn't always been a collection of blocks teeming with tourists and lit by massive LED screens.

Started From The Bottom (Of A Horse)

Originally nothing more than a farm, the area initially played host to the Manhattan manor of John Morin Scott, a general fighting under George Washington. Scott used the area for breeding horses, a fate that stuck with it long after the land was sold off to various real estate concerns by John Jacob Astor.

What was left of Scott's farm came to be known as Longacre Square even though it was shaped more like a bow tie or two intersecting triangles than anything else. As late as 1872, the area was known as the hub of the horse carriage industry, but the horses—and their smell—remained into the early 20th century. Manure and all manner of animal waste lined the streets, but German businessman Oscar Hammerstein I saw something in Longacre that nobody else did, if only because they couldn't bear to look for too long.