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110 Years Ago, Times Square Got Its Name: Celebrate by Browsing Old Photos of NYC

Thanks to a new release of images from the New York City Municipal Archives, you can see what the city looked like before it was consumed by neon

Men riding on the back of a car, 1940. (NYCMA)

One hundred and ten years ago this week, Times Square officially got its famous name.* Before April 9th, 1904, the square’s name was Long Acre Square. But, on the recommendation of Rapid Transit Commission and of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, the square got a new name when it got a new subway station—there were too many 42nd Street stops elsewhere in the city. 

And now, thanks to a new release of images from the New York City Municipal Archives, you can see what the square looked like before it was consumed by neon—and what the rest of the city looked like back in the day.

*This post and headline originally put the date at 100 years ago, because we still want to believe it's 2004, apparently.

Times Square
Times Square, 1938
city hall meeting
A 1904 meeting at City Hall during a discussion of the subway system.
city hall station
The original City Hall subway station, 1904.
holland tunnel
Men digging the South Tunnel of the Holland Tunnel, 1927.
women at school
Women at the Institute for Adult Education at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, 1934.
slot machine
Mayor LaGuardia smashes a slot machine, as part of his attempt to destroy the slot machine racket, 1934.
police baseball team
The Police Department’s baseball team, 1941.
roller skating
A roller skating competition in Central Park, 1958.
About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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