Broadway (Manhattan)

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This article is about the street in Manhattan, New York City, USA. For other streets and topics with the name Broadway, see Broadway (disambiguation).
A view of Broadway in 1909
A view of Broadway in 1909

Broadway, as the name implies, is a wide avenue in New York City, and is the oldest north-south main thoroughfare in the city, dating to the first New Amsterdam settlement. The name Broadway is an English translation of the Dutch name, Breede weg. The street is famous as the pinnacle of the American theater industry.

Broadway originated as an Indian trail developed carved into the Manhattan brush land called the Wickquasgeck Trail. This trail originally snaked through the swamps and rocks from southern to northern Manhattan. Upon the arrival of the Dutch, the trail soon became the main road through the island from New 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".

Broadway runs the length of Manhattan, being the only street running from almost the southern tip of the island, where it starts at Bowling Green, to the northern tip. It crosses the Harlem River as the Broadway Bridge and continues through the Bronx and into Westchester County. (There are other streets called "Broadway" in the city, one each in the New York City Boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island. Short isolated stretches of streets use its name, such as East Broadway, West Broadway, and Old Broadway.)

Broadway continues running through several Hudson River towns of Westchester County, before becoming the "New York-Albany Post Road", and running as far north as the state capital, Albany. Diagonally crossing the Commissioners' Plan of 1811 of Manhattan streets, its intersections with avenues have been marked by "squares" (some merely triangular slivers of open space) and induced some interesting architecture, such as the famous Flatiron Building.

A view up Broadway from Bowling Green, with the Chrysler Building visible in the background
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 ca 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 east boundary of Greenwich Village, passing Astor Place near St. Mark's Place, or 8th Street. It is a short walk from here to New York University near Washington Square at the foot of Fifth Avenue. If one walks east from Astor Place one walks to the East Village. Greenwich Village, East and West, is an interesting place well suited for tourism.

Six blocks north of Astor Place, at Union Square - 14th Street, Broadway begins its diagonal course across the island of Manhattan. At Union Square, Fourth Avenue ends and Park Avenue begins. 14th Street is recognized as a boundary between Downtown Manhattan and 'Midtown' Manhattan.

At Madison Square, Broadway crosses Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street. Madison Avenue begins at this interesection.

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

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. This part of Broadway, also known as the Great White Way, draws millions of tourists from around the world. Starring in a successful Broadway musical is considered by most singers, dancers, and actors as the ultimate success in their chosen profession, and many songs, stories, and musicals have themselves been based around the idea of such success. The annual Tony Awards recognize some of the most successful new shows and revivals each year. Since the late 1980s Times Square has emerged as a family tourist center for the New York area. Times Square is the location of The New York Times newspaper, published at offices on West 43rd Street off Broadway.

At the southwest corner of Central Park, Broadway crosses Eighth Avenue at West 59th Street to form Columbus Circle, onetime home of a convention center and now home of a new shopping center.

Further north, Broadway follows the old Bloomingdale Road as the main spine of the Upper West Side, passing the campus of Columbia University on Morningside Heights as it continues northwards. The university has a large open campus between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue with entrances on 116th Street. The Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center lies on Broadway near 166th, 167th, and 168th Streets in northern Manhattan (Washington Heights neighborhood).

Public transit

From south to north, the IRT Lexington Avenue Line which carries the 4, 5, and 6 trains, BMT Broadway Line which carries the N, Q, R, and W trains, IRT Broadway-Seventh Avenue Line which carries the 1, 2, and 3 trains and IND Eighth Avenue Line which carries the A, B, C, and D trains. On the surface, MTA New York City Transit's M1, M4, M5, M6, M7, M10, M20, M100, M104, Bx7 and Bx20 bus services all use Broadway. The Broadway and Seventh Avenue Railroad and Broadway Surface Railroad streetcar lines used to use Broadway.

See also

External link

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