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All the gaudy lights for which New York City's Times Square is known can be traced to an Election Day marvel, Smithsonian archivist Darcy Tell explains in her new book, Times Square Spectacular (HarperCollins). On November 7, 1904, the New York Times said it would announce the presidential election results using a searchlight atop the paper's 24-story headquarters at 42nd Street and Broadway. If the beam pointed east, the next president would be Alton B. Parker. Instead, it pointed west, meaning Theodore Roosevelt would stay in office. The feat, Tell writes, "helped cement Times Square's association with bright, carnival-style lights." The place is still called Times Square, though the Times itself moved to 43rd Street in 1913 and to Eighth Avenue this year.

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