Times Square in New York was given its name shortly after the offices of The New York Times moved to the area.
Having once belonged to the prominent real estate investor John Jacob Astor, the second half of the 19th century saw the area around the modern Times Square become the centre of the New York carriage business. The establishment of the American Horse Exchange by the prominent businessman William Henry Vanderbilt fuelled this development which led to the area being named Longacre Square after London’s carriage district which centred on Long Acre.
While the late 1800s saw the area develop a reputation as a red light district, the arrival of electricity attracted the impresario Oscar Hammerstein I who opened a huge theatre complex called the Olympia in 1895. Although the nearby Empire Theatre had opened two years earlier, the imposing Olympia contributed to a change in the economic makeup of Longacre that coincided with the arrival of New York’s first rapid transit system.
Easy access to middle- and upper-class restaurant and theatre goers, alongside the fast distribution network provided by the new Interborough Rapid Transit line, persuaded Adolph S. Ochs of The New York Times to move his newspaper’s headquarters to the area at the start of the 20th century. Having chosen a prime piece of land he built the Times Tower, the second tallest building in the city at the time, with its basement containing the printing presses right next door to the new subway line.
To coincide with the arrival of the newspaper, Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. approved a resolution to change the name from Longacre Square to Times Square. Even after the newspaper moved offices the name stayed, as did the neon lights and millions of visitors.