A Short History of Longacre Square

By Joe Sinagra | The Save Jersey Blog

NYE Times Square BallA little history lesson ahead of tonight’s festivities, Save Jerseyans:

Carriage making was doing a vigorous business 1872 in the Manhattan area around 43rd Street, an area also known for farming and the breeding of horses. City officials called it Longacre Square after Long Acre in London, where the carriage trade in that city was centered and which was also a home to stables.

In 1895, Longacre Square had a new tenant, Oscar Hammerstein I, who developed a large entertainment complex in the hopes of rekindling an interest in opera. This complex, called the Olympia, occupied a full block on 42nd Street and featured three theaters.

During this time, many new theaters opened on the Great White Way, so named for Broadway’s famous light show.

Longacre Square started with a few brownstones built by a developer who saw potential for a new “uptown” neighborhood. Following the area’s development, people moved to the square in droves, along with brothels, pickpockets, and streetwalkers. Soon thereafter the area was also called the red-light district.

Renamed Times Square in April 8th, 1904 after Albert Ochs, publisher of The New York Times, had moved the newspaper’s headquarters and operations to a new skyscraper on 42nd Street, a property which was formerly the site of The Pabst Hotel. Even after The New York Times moved across Broadway in 1913 the name stuck, today recognized as One Times Square.

On December 31, 1907, a ball signifying New Year’s Day organized by Times publisher Adolph Ochs, was first dropped at Times Square, and has held the main New Year’s celebration in New York City ever since.