New York City is one of America’s most important cities. It is a landmark, renowned for its diversity, financial, entertainment and fashion districts, culture and history. It is by far one of the world’s most well-known cities and is loved by its 8.491 million inhabitants and billions of people the world over. The city has seen its fair share of tremendous success and heartbreaking tragedy. In fact, NYC was even once the nation’s capital.
And things have certainly changed since the city’s humble beginnings way back in 1664. As an avid lover of all things New York City, I wanted to share some of the city’s most iconic landmarks and how they have changed over time.
Billions around the world know of Times Square and its dazzling lights and large, in-your-face advertisements, but not many know that before 1904, Times Square was known as Long Acre Square. The name was changed after The New York Times had set their new headquarters in the square. Obviously, the large neon signs and towering skyscrapers were not present during this time. Instead, Times Square’s streets were paved with cobblestone and adorned with horse-drawn carriages, and low-rise buildings plastered with billboards dominated the area. Times Square was also home to a variety of hotels, most notably the Hotel Astor. Today, Times Square is bright, flashy, an important area for the entertainment industry, and the home of New York’s Broadway Theater District. After Lehman Brothers purchased the Times Building in 1995, the building was used as an advertising space and became the now famous billboard building that the world has come to love.
World Trade Center
As New York City quickly became the financial capital of the world in the early 1800s, that financial power only gained strength well into the 1900s. And in 1939, plans for a world trade center came to light. Essentially, New York’s leaders hoped to bring world peace through a global financial center located in New York City. Eventually, this dream was realized in two of New York City’s most beloved buildings, the Twin Towers. Completed in 1973, the Twin Towers were a symbol of NYC’s place on top of the financial industry. And for 28 years, those buildings, and the surrounding buildings of the World Trace Center complex, stood for financial prosperity. Unfortunately, the Twin Towers were the target of the largest terrorist attack ever on American soil. Ultimately, the attack led to the collapse of both buildings and the deaths of almost 3,000 people.
Before the attacks, the Twin Towers were a revolutionary concept. In order to achieve the astounding heights proposed, construction crews needed to dig down 70 feet into Manhattan’s ground in order to locate bedrock. The two buildings, whose heights reached 1,368 feet and 1,362 feet, were the tallest buildings in the world at the time. The complex featured the Twin Towers, as well as five other, smaller buildings. The area was forever changed after the attacks. Today, the World Trade Center Complex looks completely different. The complex is comprised of the National September 11 Museum and the National September 11 Memorial, as well as the new One World Trade Center building, also known as the Freedom Tower. The new building began construction in 2006 and was completed in 2014, coming in at 1,776 feet tall, commemorating the year of America’s birth. The new building sports a design with panels of glass designed to give the appearance that the building is slowly sloping towards its top. The memorial’s design is comprised of two, enormous waterfalls situated in the footprint left by the original Twin Tower buildings. The memorial, titled Reflection of Absence, is meant to symbolize the void left by the two buildings’ destruction and the tremendous loss of life on that day. There are several other buildings that are being planned for the complex, and they are still under construction.
New York City is a massive, sprawling metropolis. There are several other areas and landmarks in the city that have drastically changed over the years. This is only a small sample. This is the first part in a series of blogs aimed at taking you down memory lane.