Secrets of Times Square
Times Square has a number of little secrets tucked away in plain sight if you know where to look. Most people – including me – pass by these every day till you know they exist, and then it is hard to unsee these once you know what they are. Here are the ones I have tripped on to so far, and I am always on a quest to find some more!
- Map of the Great White Way
- New Year Numbers in Times Square
- NYE Confetti
- Sound Art Installation
- Midnight Moment
I’ve written about the Remnants of Old Times Square in this post, many of which are secrets from years gone by if you know where to look! You can read about them here.
1. Map of the Great White Way:
The Great White Way is a nickname for Broadway between 42nd and 54th Streets which has most of the City’s 41 Broadway theaters. In case you are wondering why these are called Broadway theaters, check out my post here.
In 2013, a map of these theaters was installed on the ground at Duffy Square in Times Square. Most people walk past or on it without realizing this is a map with the names and locations of all the Broadway theaters, making it one of my favorite Secret of Times Square.
2. Speakeasies in Times Square
There are two speakeasies in the periphery of Times Square. The first one is called Bar Centrale on 46th Street between 8th and 9th Ave, and is a popular watering hole for the theater crowd. Reservations are recommended as I have not been able to get in without one on a couple of occasions. And it is advisable not to stare if you see someone you recognize there! It looked just like a townhouse for many many years and you needed to know the building number at a minimum to find it, though the new ratings which need to be displayed outside have become an easy giveaway for it now. Bars are permitted to stay open till 4am in NYC, so it is quite fun to make a night of it at these hidden bars.
I love the way they serve their cocktails, with half in an iced container so every sip you drink is absolutely chilled!
The second one opened in early 2022, and is right off a subway platform. Called Nothing Really Matters, you need to go down the entrance to the Downtown bound 1 train at 50th Street at the entrance below Duane Reade, and it is behind an unmarked black glass door to the right before the subway platform. It has a great vibe and cocktail menu, and is definitely worth a visit for the experience and the drinks.
Here’s where you need to go in from:
This last one is not quite a speakeasy, but more like an open secret for being the best vantage point to take in Times Square without actually being a part of all the people in it. It is from the R Lounge at the Renaissance Hotel, and here is what its like to get a drink there if you manage to snag a table by the windows:
You will actually be sitting behind the row of black glass you can see at the top of the red stairs, and below the Coca Cola ad at the R Lounge.
3. New Year Numbers in Times Square
One of my favorite times to visit Times Square is when the numerals that sit below the Times Square ball are actually displayed on the ground before being hoisted for the New Years eve celebration. They look tiny from the ground, but these are 7 ft tall!
Here are a few that I have actually visited over the years. It is usually freezing at this time of year, and was actually snowing when I posed with the ‘20! I caught 2022 just when the numerals were being wheeled into Times Square, didn’t get a chance to go back and get a picture at night when they were all lit up.
4. New Year Eve Confetti in Times Square
The confetti that rains down right after the ball drops in Times Square is not just pieces of colored paper, but wishes that people have written over the past month in Times Square. It is really fun as you can write as many as you like at designated booths that are easily accessible, and they always have enough paper and pens for everyone.
5. Sound Art Installation
There is an unmarked sound art installation in Times Square on the pedestrian island on Broadway between 45th and 46th Street. It was first installed in the 1970s and emits a hum below a subway grate, which is often undiscernible with the sound of the traffic and people. The installation by Max Neuhaus is fittingly called ‘Times Square’.
6. Midnight Moment:
Midnight Moment is the largest running digital art exhibit in the world. It started in 2012, and to experience it all you have to do is be in Times Square from 11:57pm – 12:00am on any night. Most billboards synchronize at this time to display the Midnight Moment of the month. This is the one time every single day when most of Times Square is taken over by art, and it is fantastic to experience.
I was so fascinated when I first discovered it that I would plan being out so I could be in Times Square at 11:57pm to experience this as often as I could. I tried to view it from many different spots. Here is an example of one, you can head on over to my post on Public Art at Times Square that has a few more that I have seen over the years. Here is one called Pattern Language by Peter Burr.
My post on Remnants of Times Square has a number of secrets that you can read about in my post here.