Broadway (New York City)

Broadway (New York City)

NYCDOT Broadway Sign.svg

South end: Stone Street / Whitehall Street, Lower Manhattan, in New York City
NY 495 in Manhattan
I-95 / US 1 / US 9 in Manhattan
NY 9A / Henry Hudson Parkway in The Bronx
NY 9A in Yonkers
I-87 / I-287 / Thruway / NY 119 in Tarrytown
NY 448 in Sleepy Hollow
North end: US 9 / NY 117 in Sleepy Hollow, Westchester County, New York
A view of Broadway in 1909

Broadway is a prominent avenue in New York City, United States, which runs through the full length of the borough of Manhattan and continues northward through the Bronx borough before terminating in Westchester County, New York.[1] It is the oldest north–south main thoroughfare in the city, dating to the first New Amsterdam settlement. The name Broadway is the English literal translation of the Dutch name, Breede weg. A stretch of Broadway is famous as the heart of the American theatre industry.



In 1885 the Broadway commercial district was overrun with telephone, telegraph, and electrical lines. This view was north from Cortlandt and Maiden Lane.

Broadway was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail, carved into the brush destination of Manhattan by its Native American inhabitants.[2] This trail originally snaked through swamps and rocks along the length of Manhattan Island. Upon the arrival of the Dutch, the trail soon became the main road through the island from Nieuw Amsterdam at the southern tip. The Dutch explorer and entrepreneur David de Vries gives the first mention of it in his journal for the year 1642 ("the Wickquasgeck Road over which the Indians passed daily"). The Dutch named the road "Heerestraat".[3] In the mid-eighteenth century, part of Broadway in what is now lower Manhattan was known as Great George Street.[4] In the 18th century, Broadway ended at the town commons north of Wall Street, where Eastern Post Road continued through the East Side and Bloomingdale Road the west side of the island. In the late 19th century the widened and paved part of Bloomingdale Road north of Columbus Circle was called "The Boulevard" but on February 14, 1899 the name "Broadway" was extended to the whole old road.[5]


Plan of 1868 for an "arcade railway".

Broadway runs the length of Manhattan Island, from Bowling Green at the south, to Inwood at the northern tip of the island. South of Columbus Circle, it is a one-way southbound street. Starting in 2009, vehicular traffic is banned at Times Square between 47th and 42nd Streets, and at Herald Square between 35th and 33rd Streets as part of a pilot program; the right-of-way is intact and reserved for cyclists and pedestrians. From the northern shore of Manhattan, Broadway crosses Spuyten Duyvil Creek via the Broadway Bridge and continues through Marble Hill (a discontinuous portion of the borough of Manhattan) and the Bronx into Westchester County. U.S. 9 continues to be known as Broadway through its junction with NY 117.

Because Broadway is a true north–south route that parallels the Hudson River and precedes the grid that the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 imposed on the island, Broadway diagonally crosses Manhattan, its intersections with avenues marked by "squares" (some merely triangular slivers of open space) that have induced some interesting architecture, such as the Flatiron Building.

A view up Broadway from Bowling Green, with the Chrysler Building visible in the background

The section of lower Broadway from its origin at Bowling Green to City Hall Park is the historical location for the city's ticker-tape parades, and is sometimes called the "Canyon of Heroes" during such events. West of Broadway as far as Canal Street was the city's fashionable residential area until circa 1825; landfill has more than tripled the area and the Hudson shore now lies far to the west, beyond TriBeCa and Battery Park City.

Broadway marks the boundary between Greenwich Village to the west and the East Village to the east, passing Astor Place. It is a short walk from there to New York University near Washington Square Park, which is at the foot of Fifth Avenue. A bend in front of Grace Church allegedly avoids an earlier tavern; from 10th Street it begins its long diagonal course across Manhattan, headed almost due north.

At Union Square, Broadway crosses 14th Street and continues its diagonal uptown course from the Square's northwest corner. Union Square is the only location wherein Broadway is discontinuous in Manhattan.

At Madison Square, location of the Flatiron Building, Broadway crosses Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street.

At Herald Square, Broadway crosses Sixth Avenue (the Avenue of the Americas). Macy's Department Store is located on the western corner of Herald Square; it is one of the largest department stores in the world.

Broadway and 38th Street

One famous stretch near Times Square, where Broadway crosses Seventh Avenue in midtown Manhattan, is the home of many Broadway theatres, housing an ever-changing array of commercial, large-scale plays, particularly musicals. This area of Manhattan is often called the Theater District or the Great White Way, a nickname originating in the headline "Found on the Great White Way" in the February 3, 1902 edition of the New York Evening Telegram. The journalistic nickname was inspired by the millions of lights on theater marquees and billboard advertisements that illuminate the area.

After becoming New York's de facto Red Light District in the 1960s and 1970s (as can be seen in the films Taxi Driver and Midnight Cowboy), since the late 1980s Times Square has emerged as a family tourist center, in effect being Disneyfied following the company's purchase and renovation of the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street in 1993. Until June 2007, The New York Times, from which the Square gets its name, was published at offices at 239 West 43rd Street; the paper stopped printing papers there on June 15, 1997.[6]

At the southwest corner of Central Park, Broadway crosses Eighth Avenue at West 59th Street; on the site of the former New York Coliseum convention center is the new shopping center at the foot of the Time Warner Center, headquarters of Time Warner.

North of Columbus Circle, Broadway retains planted center islands as a vestige of the central mall of "The Boulevard" that became the spine of the Upper West Side.

At the intersection of Columbus Avenue and West 65th Street, Broadway passes by the Juilliard School and Lincoln Center, both well-known performing arts landmarks, as well as a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon or LDS Church), known as the Manhattan New York Temple.

At the intersection with 72nd street, the triangle of tiny Verdi Square is surrounded by several notable apartment buildings, including The Ansonia, and the Florentine palazzo occupied by Apple Bank for Savings.

At its intersection with 78th Street, Broadway shifts direction, to continue directly uptown aligned approximately with the Commissioners' grid. Past the bend are The Apthorp and the First Baptist Church in the City of New York (1891), built for a Baptist congregation in New York since 1762. The road heads north passing such important apartment houses as The Belnord, the Astor Court Building, and the Art nouveau Cornwall.[7][8]

At 99th Street Broadway passes between the controversial skyscrapers of The Ariel East and West.

At 107th Street Broadway intersects with West End Avenue to form Straus Park with its Titanic Memorial by Augustus Lukeman.

Broadway at Dyckman Street in Inwood

Further north, Broadway follows the old Bloomingdale Road as the main spine of the Upper West Side, passing the campus of Columbia University at 116th Street in Morningside Heights, in part on the tract that housed the Bloomingdale (Lunatic) Asylum from 1808 until it moved to Westchester County in 1894. Still in Morningside Heights, Broadway passes the handsome, park-like campus of Barnard College. Next, the beautiful Gothic quadrangle of Union Theological Seminary and the brick buildings of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America with their beautifully landscaped interior courtyards face one another across Broadway. On the next block is the Manhattan School of Music. Broadway then runs past the proposed uptown campus of Columbia University, and the main campus of CUNY—City College; the beautiful Gothic buildings of the original City College campus are out of sight, a block to the east. Also to the east are the handsome brownstones of Hamilton Heights.

Broadway achieves a verdant, park-like effect, particularly in the spring, when it runs between the uptown Trinity Church Cemetery and the former Trinity Chapel, now the Church of the Intercession, New York near 155th Street. The springtime plantings in the median, maintained by Trinity Church, are spectacular.[citation needed]

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital lies on Broadway near 166th, 167th, and 168th Streets in Washington Heights. At this point, Broadway becomes part of US 9. The intersection with Saint Nicholas Avenue at 167th Street forms Mitchell Square Park.

Broadway crosses the Harlem River on the Broadway Bridge to Marble Hill and then enters The Bronx, where it is the eastern border of Riverdale and the western border of Van Cortlandt Park. After leaving New York City, it is the main north–south street of western Yonkers, New York, before becoming Albany Post Road at the northern border of Tarrytown, New York.

Public transit

From south to north, Broadway at one point or another runs over or under the IRT Lexington Avenue Line, the BMT Broadway Line, the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line, and the IND Eighth Avenue Line:

  • The IRT Lexington Avenue Line runs under Broadway from Bowling Green to Fulton Street (4 5 trains).
  • The BMT Broadway Line runs under it from City Hall to Times Square – 42nd Street (N Q R trains).
  • The IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line runs under and over Broadway from Times Square to 168th Street (1 2 3 trains), and from 218th Street to its terminal in the Bronx at Van Cortlandt Park – 242nd Street (1 train).
  • The northern portion of the IND Eighth Avenue Line runs under Broadway from Dyckman Street to Inwood – 207th Street (A train).

Early street railways on Broadway included the Broadway and Seventh Avenue Railroad's Broadway and University Place Line (1864?) between Union Square (14th Street) and Times Square (42nd Street), the Ninth Avenue Railroad's Ninth and Amsterdam Avenues Line (1884) between 65th Street and 71st Street, the Forty-second Street, Manhattanville and St. Nicholas Avenue Railway's Broadway Branch Line (1885?) between Times Square and 125th Street, and the Kingsbridge Railway's Kingsbridge Line north of 169th Street. The Broadway Surface Railroad's Broadway Line, a cable car line, opened on lower Broadway (below Times Square) in 1893, and soon became the core of the Metropolitan Street Railway, with two cable branches: the Broadway and Lexington Avenue Line and Broadway and Columbus Avenue Line.

These streetcar lines were replaced with bus routes in the 1930s and 1940s. Before Broadway became one-way, the main bus routes along it were the New York City Omnibus Company's (NYCO) 6 (Broadway below Times Square), 7 (Broadway and Columbus Avenue), and 11 (Ninth and Amsterdam Avenues), and the Surface Transportation Corporation's M100 (Kingsbridge) and M104 (Broadway Branch). Additionally, the Fifth Avenue Coach Company's (FACCo) 4 and 5 used Broadway from 135th Street north to Washington Heights, and their 5 and 6 used Broadway between 57th Street and 72nd Street. With the implementation of one-way traffic, the northbound 6 and 7 were moved to Sixth Avenue.

As of 2011, Broadway is now served by the M4 (ex-FACCo 4), M5 (ex-FACCo 5), M7 (ex-NYCO 7), M100, and M104. Other routes that use part of Broadway include the M10, M20, M60, Bx7, and Bx20.

Canyon of Heroes

Canyon of Heroes during a ticker-tape parade for the Apollo 11 astronauts on August 13, 1969

Canyon of Heroes is occasionally used to refer to the section of lower Broadway in the Financial District that is the location of the city's ticker-tape parades.

The traditional route of the parade is northward from Bowling Green to City Hall Park. Most of the route is lined with tall office buildings along both sides, affording a view of the parade for thousands of office workers who create the snowstorm-like jettison of shredded paper products that characterize the parade.

While typical sports championship parades have been showered with some 50 tons of confetti and shredded paper, the V-J Day parade on August 14 and August 15, 1945 – marking the end of World War II – was covered with 5,438 tons of paper, based on estimates provided by the New York City Department of Sanitation.[9]

More than 200 black granite strips embedded in the sidewalks along the Canyon of Heroes list honorees of past ticker-tape parades.[10]

The most recent parade in the Canyon of Heroes was on November 6, 2009 for the New York Yankees in honor of their 27th World Series Championship.[11]

Great White Way


Great White Way is a nickname for a section of Broadway in the Midtown section of the New York City borough of Manhattan, specifically the portion that encompasses the Theatre District, between 42nd and 53rd Streets, and encompassing Times Square.[citation needed]

In 1880, a stretch of Broadway between Union Square and Madison Square was illuminated by Brush arc lamps, making it among the first electrically lighted streets in the United States.[12] By the 1890s, the portion from 23rd Street to 34th Street was so brightly illuminated by electrical advertising signs, that people began calling it "The Great White Way."[13] When the theatre district moved uptown, the name was transferred to the Times Square area.

The phrase Great White Way has been attributed to Shep Friedman, columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph in 1901, who lifted the term from the title of a book about the Arctic by Albert Paine.[14] The headline "Found on the Great White Way" appeared in the February 3, 1902, edition of the New York Evening Telegram.[14]

A portrait of Broadway in the early part of the 20th century and "The Great White Way" late at night appeared in "Artist In Manhattan"(1940)[15] written by the painter-writer Jerome Myers:

Early morn on Broadway, the same light that tips the mountain tops of the Colorado canyons gradually discloses the quiet anatomy, the bare skeletons of the huge iron signs that trellis the sky, now denuded of the attractions of the volcanic night. Almost lifeless, the tired entertainers of the night clubs and their friends straggle to their rooms, taximen compare notes and earnings, the vast street scene has had its curtain call, the play is over.

Dear old Broadway, for many years have I dwelt on your borders. I have known the quiet note of your dawn. Even earlier I would take my coffee at Martin's, at 54th Street–now, alas, vanished–where I would see creatures of the night life before they disappeared with the dawn.

One night a celebrated female impersonator came to the restaurant in all his regalia, directly from a club across the street. Several taximen began to poke fun at him. Unable any longer to bear their taunts, he got up and knocked all the taximen out cold. Then he went back to the club, only to lament under his bitter tears, "See how they've ruined my dress!"

Gone are the old-time Broadway oyster bars and chop houses that were the survivors of a tradition of their sporting patrons, the bon vivants of Manhattan. Gone are the days when the Hoffman House flourished on Madison Square, with its famous nudes by Bouguereau; when barrooms were palaces, on nearly every corner throughout the city; when Steve Brodie, jumping from Brooklyn Bridge, splashed the entire country with publicity; when Bowery concert halls dispensed schooners of beer for a nickel, with a stage show thrown in; when Theis's Music Hall still resounded on 14th Street with its great mechanical organ, the wonder of its day, a place of beauty, with fine paintings and free company and the frankest of female life. Across the street was Tammany Hall, and next to it Tony Pastor's, where stars of the stage were born. Tony himself, in dress clothes and top hat, sang his ballads, a gallant trouper introducing Lillian Russell and others to fame through his audience.

Modern traffic flow

Broadway was once a two-way street for its entire length. The present status, in which it runs one-way southbound south of Columbus Circle (59th Street), came about in several stages. On June 6, 1954, Seventh Avenue became southbound and Eighth Avenue became northbound south of Broadway. None of Broadway became one-way, but the increased southbound traffic between Columbus Circle (Eighth Avenue) and Times Square (Seventh Avenue) caused the city to re-stripe that section of Broadway for four southbound and two northbound lanes.[16] Broadway became one-way from Columbus Circle south to Herald Square (34th Street) on March 10, 1957, in conjunction with Sixth Avenue becoming one-way from Herald Square north to 59th Street and Seventh Avenue becoming one-way from 59th Street south to Times Square (where it crosses Broadway).[17] On June 3, 1962, Broadway became one-way south of Canal Street, with Trinity Place and Church Street carrying northbound traffic.[18] Another change was made on November 10, 1963, when Broadway became one-way southbound from Herald Square to Madison Square (23rd Street) and Union Square (14th Street) to Canal Street, and two routes - Sixth Avenue south of Herald Square and Centre Street, Lafayette Street, and Fourth Avenue south of Union Square - became one-way northbound.[19] Finally, at the same time as Madison Avenue became one-way northbound and Fifth Avenue became one-way southbound, Broadway was made one-way southbound between Madison Square (where Fifth Avenue crosses) and Union Square on January 14, 1966, completing its conversion south of Columbus Circle.[20][21]

In August 2008, two traffic lanes from 42nd to 35th Streets were taken out of service and converted to public plazas.[22]

Since May 2009, the portions of Broadway through Duffy Square, Times Square, and Herald Square have been closed entirely to automobile traffic, except for cross traffic on the Streets and Avenues, as part of a traffic and pedestrianization experiment, with the pavement reserved exclusively for walkers, cyclists, and those lounging in temporary seating placed by the City. The City decided that the experiment was successful and decided to make the change permanent in February 2010. Though the anticipated benefits to traffic flow were not as large as hoped, pedestrian injuries dropped dramatically and foot traffic increased in the designated areas; the project was popular with both residents and businesses.[23]


1 Broadway

Broadway is lined with many famous and otherwise noted and historic buildings, such as

See also


  1. ^ There are four other streets named "Broadway" in New York City's remaining three boroughs: one each in Brooklyn and Staten Island, and two in Queens (one running from Astoria to Elmhurst, and the other in Hamilton Beach).
  2. ^ Shorto, Russell (February 9, 2004). "The Streets Where History Lives". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-04. "And what about a marker for the Wickquasgeck Trail, the Indian path that ran the length of the island, which the Dutch made into their main highway and the English renamed Broadway?" 
  3. ^ Ellis, Edward Robb (1966). The Epic of New York City. Old Town Books. pp. 26. 
  4. ^ "City Notes of 1774 Up for Redemption". The New York Times: p. N1. October 6, 1935. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  5. ^ February 14th in NYC History: 1899, referred to as "the 'Western' Boulevard"; called "the 'Grand' Boulevard" in The New York Times, February 1869, quoted in Michael V. Susi, The Upper West Side "Introduction", 2009:7.
  6. ^ Dunlap, David W. (June 10, 2007). "Copy!". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-10. "The sound is muffled by wall-to-wall carpet tiles and fabric-lined cubicles. But it’s still there, embedded in the concrete and steel sinews of the old factory at 229 West 43rd Street, where The New York Times was written and edited yesterday for the last time." 
  7. ^ Horsley, Carter B. "The Cornwall" City Review
  8. ^ White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000). AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0812931076.  p. 351
  9. ^ "Q & A: Today’s Giants Ticker-Tape Parade". The New York Times. February 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  10. ^ Santos, Fernanda (June 11, 2008). "Super Bowl-Winning Giants Get Canyon of Heroes Honor". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-04. "The plaque is one of the more than 200 granite strips in a route known as the Canyon of Heroes, marking those who have been honored by the city with ticker-tape parades." 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Burrows & Wallace, p.1063
  13. ^ Burrows & Wallace, p.1066
  14. ^ a b Bloom, Ken. Broadway: its history, people, and places : an encyclopedia, p.499 (2003) (ISBN 978-0415937047)
  15. ^ Jerome Myers, Artist in Manhattan, New York: American Artists Group, Inc. 1940.
  16. ^ Ingraham, Joseph C. (June 7, 1954). "7th and 8th Aves. Shift to One-Way". The New York Times: p. 1. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  17. ^ Ingraham, Joseph C. (March 12, 1957). "New One-Way Plan Cuts Delay by 30% In Midtown Traffic". The New York Times: p. 1. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  18. ^ Robertson, Nan (June 5, 1962). "Shifts in Traffic Marked By Jams". The New York Times: p. 1. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  19. ^ "City to Extend One-Way Traffic to 3 Manhattan Routes Sunday". The New York Times: p. 1. November 5, 1963. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  20. ^ Ingraham, Joseph C. (May 12, 1965). "5th and Madison Will Go One-Way Early Next Year". The New York Times: p. 1. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  21. ^ Fowle, Farnsworth (January 17, 1966). "Barnes Suggests Express Bus Runs". The New York Times: p. 1. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  22. ^ Donohue, Pete (July 10, 2008). "City to Make Two Broadway Lanes Bikes, Walkers Only for Seven Blocks". Daily News (New York). Retrieved 2010-07-11. 
  23. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M. (February 11, 2010). "New York Traffic Experiment Gets Permanent Run". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-11. 

External links

Coordinates: 40°46′13″N 73°58′55″W / 40.770139°N 73.982069°W / 40.770139; -73.982069

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