At the heart of New York City lies the junction of Seventh Avenue and Broadway, perhaps the most well known intersection in the world.
As a kid, I stayed awake on New Year’s Eve and watched the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square at midnight. I was fascinated by all the billboards and the crowds of people. One Times Square provides the intriguing history behind one of the world’s most famous pieces of real estate. Broadway started out as a dirt path with the name of Bloomingdale Road. Near the end of the 19th century, theater impresario Oscar Hammerstein built two theaters in this area which led to several other theater owners to follow and create what is now known as Broadway. In 1904, the New York Times built its new headquarters on the intersection at an impressive height of 395 feet. This prompted Mayor George B. McClellan to crown the area as Times Square. Author Joe McKendry takes readers on an exciting journey through the following hundred years as the square serves as an information hub before television and the computer age take hold. I was particularly interested in the workings of the “Zipper” sign which broadcast breaking news on a five foot electronic panel. There are so many iconic images contained in the pages of this wonderful book.
One of big themes of social studies is change over time. One Times Square would be a great resource to track U.S. history over the last century. McKendry documents the decaying of the square during the 60’s and 70’s and its resurgence in the ’80s. Older students can read this part of the text and discuss the pros and cons of urban revitalization. Before you watch the ball drop next Monday night, you should go and find a copy of One Times Square and amaze your friends and family with the interesting history of the area.
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