Neighborhood: Theater District
Population: 3,696, but it feels like a whole lot more.
Adjacent Neighborhoods: Hell’s Kitchen, Garment District, Midtown West
Public Transit: 7, S, N, Q, R, 1, 2, 3, to Times Square; A, C, E to Times Square-Port Authority; N, Q, R to 49th St.; 1 to 50th St.; C, E to 50th St.; and B, D, E to Seventh Ave.
What’s Here?: Guess what the Theater District has a lot of? Theaters! The area is the place to go for a show and a good pre-theater dinner menu: the dining options are endless. But there’s more than restaurants and Broadway-attractions include museums, comedy clubs, music venues, hotels, television studios, and tons of shopping. The Theater District is also home to Times Square, an astounding/dizzying round-the-clock neon explosion that draws a tremendous number of tourists. Energy level: consistently a 10 out of 10.
Flat or Tall?: The Theater District has largely commercial and office buildings, and many very, very tall ones at that.
History: New York City theater started out in downtown Manhattan in the early 1800s, but after the Civil War, the business largely moved to Midtown, where it remains. By the early 1900s, Broadway theaters were advertising their shows with bright electric signs, garnering the area the nickname “The Great White Way.” In 1904, following the arrival of the New York Times offices in Longacre Square, Mayor George B. McClellan renamed it Times Square. Theater boomed during the 1920s, commonly known as the Golden Age of Broadway; wilted during the Great Depression; and then picked back up again. The 1940s saw the musical flourish on Broadway, and in 1947, the American Theatre Wing held the first Tony Awards.
Activities: Besides checking out any of the enormous variety of Broadway shows, visit Discovery Times Square for “immersive exhibit experiences” or Madame Tussaud’s for wax sculptures so lifelike they’re eerie. For live music, head to B.B. King’s Blues Club & Grill or Radio City Music Hall. If you’re looking for a quiet, thoughtful experience, visit the International Center of Photography or, just outside Theater District borders, the Museum of Modern Art. In Times Square, climb up the red staircase by the TKTS booth for an expansive view that gets even some hardened New York natives a little teary.
Check it out: Don’t miss the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, which runs at Radio City Music Hall Nov. 8-Dec. 30. If you’re daring and don’t mind standing in a crowd for hours, watch the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.