Recently our Marketing Specialist took a trip to New York City, and of course had to see all of the signage in Time Square. Everywhere you look there are signs from the sides of buses, kiosks in and outside of stores, and of course most famously the large digital screens showcasing ads that are truly larger than life!

Times Square in the Early Days

According to, Times Square was originally known as Long Acre. While it was home to William H. Vanderbilt’s “American Horse Exchange”, aside from that and a few apartments, it wasn’t obvious of the future that lay ahead for this part of NYC.

Times Square Gets Its Name

That started to change when Adolph S. Ochs, American newspaper publisher and former owner of The New York Times and The Chattanooga Times (now the Chattanooga Times Free Press), decided to build the TImes Tower. The Spring before the building’s construction was completed, the 2nd larges in NYC at the time, “Mayor George B. McClellan signed a resolution that renamed the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue from Long Acre Square to Times Square.”

Fun fact: New Years Eve’s Times Square celebrations began after “Ochs staged the first event to commemorate the new building and crowds still gather today to bring in the new year.”

Times Square Evolves

From the 1960s on, Times Square began to develop a reputation as the seedy center of NYC, and theaters of all varieties cropped up on the square. Signage was largely developed to advertise these businesses and their shows at that time. Zoning was also often ignored at this time, which led to a wild west-like environment for businesses, signage, and more.

From Neon to LED in their article on Times Square signage, they state “1996, Morgan Stanley’s installation of a three-tiered message center, built by Daktronics (Brookings, SD), created a new signature look for digital signage in Times Square by introducing LED-lit signage and video displays.”

Future of Times Square

Times Square’s present and its future planning now greatly contrasts with the time from the period from the Great Depression on the the 90s. Now, according to’s Vision of Times Square, they have a specific vision and tenets they hope Times Square can be including:

  • a hub that captures and celebrates our culture, in every sense of that word: our artistic and creative culture, our popular culture, our diverse cultures.
  • a vibrant and democratic public space that exemplifies the civic, cultural and commercial life of our city, and of all great urban places.
  • a place by, of and for New Yorkers, that we can then share proudly with the rest of the world.

Times Square Signage Gallery has a gallery showcasing an array of Times Square signage over the years.