BROADWAY – PROBABLY THE MOST FAMOUS STREET IN THE WORLD
It wasn’t that long ago that the most famous road in the world was nothing more than a well-trodden beaten path in a dense wooded area. Indians used it to get from the southern tip of their comparatively narrow peninsula north to the mainland. Today, around 350 years later, what was once a beaten path has become a synonym for the big wide world, for first-class entertainment and great shopping. We’re of course talking about Broadway, Manhattan’s lifeline. Over a length of more than 25 kilometers, this street leads past almost all the sights that the metropolis of New York has to offer.
On the one hand, Broadway is one of the most famous streets in New York City, which defies the otherwise usual checkerboard pattern of the rest of the street. On the other hand, the name Broadway epitomizes a colorful, dazzling world of theater. Most of the musicals are performed in the Broadway / Times Square area and the famous Broadway theaters are located here.
According to Campingship, American theater classics by Arthur Miller, Thornton Wilder and Tenessee Williams began their triumphal march through the world in the theater district around Times Square. Musicals like Westside Story or A Chorus Line celebrated their first successes here. Aside from the West End of London, this is the densest concentration of stages in the world. In fact, of over 30 Broadway theaters, only 7 are actually on Broadway (in the best of times there were over 80 theaters in the immediate vicinity). The rest is concentrated in an area of ten blocks north of Times Square.
From Dutch Breede Weg to English Broadway
In order to understand the development of Broadway, it is necessary to take a look back at the past. In the 17th century, the Dutch settled in the south of the Manhattan peninsula, which then, as now, took its name from the language of the Delaware Indians. In other parts of the “New World” it was the English who gradually conquered land at the expense of the natives. But while they built their settlements on the model of English cities, the Dutch made use of the already existing route of the Indians for their newly founded “New Amsterdam”. They widened it and consequently called it “Breede Weg”, that is, broad way. The English who took over the city a few decades later and moved to New York City renamed, left it at the name, but of course translated it into English. “Broadway” had finally made it onto the map of the western world.
Greetings from Peter Stuyvesant
The course of Broadway has not really changed significantly since the Indian days until today. However, it no longer begins as it once did at the northern tip of Manhattan. This is simply because the tip was moved further into the water through land reclamation measures. However, Broadway still has its historic exit on Bowling Green. From there it led straight into the heart of the western financial world – into the Financial District and the directly neighboring stock exchange on Wall Street. Incidentally, it has its name from Dutch times. The then governor Pieter (Peter) Stuyvesant had a high wall built at this point to protect against attacks.
We continue north, past the One World Trade Center (today the tallest building in New York), which stands on the site of the former World Trade Center, and at the ” 9/11 Memorial “. Both buildings are forever linked to the terror of September 11th, 2001 and the New Yorkers are determined not to let it get them down. It’s just a few steps from Broadway.
When Broadway avenues cross
It always gets exciting when Broadway crosses another major street, with one of the many avenues of the Big Apple. This is the case, for example, at 23rd Street, where Broadway and Fifth Avenue meet. Not only does the iconic “Flat Iron” building stand here, real New York life also takes place around Madison Square, in which tourists become part of the whole. Small shops, bars and cafes almost make you forget for a moment that a cosmopolitan city roars around them.
A little further north at the intersection of Broadway and Sixth Avenue, shopping becomes a real experience. The famous department store ” Macy’s “, In front of which a pedestrian zone has now been set up. From there it is not far to Times Square. This truly world-famous place with its huge advertising space, the always current stock prices and the latest news runs as part of Broadway through the middle of the theater district of New York. For many, Broadway is synonymous with lavish theater and musical productions, which are shown here first. Pieces that make it on Broadway can then be sold all over the world for high royalties. But not every theater company can afford to stage and act on Broadway. The smaller houses that have been displaced from the main street are now adorning themselves with production “off Broadway”. So you can still benefit from the big name.
Another highlight of a walk on Broadway is the intersection with Columbus Avenue, where the “Met”, the Metropolitan Opera, is located. Not far from there is the “Trump Tower” of today’s US President Donald Trump.
After about after the opera house building, Broadway changes from an adventure street to a residential street. Admittedly, on a posh residential street that only well-heeled New Yorkers can afford on the Upper West Side. When Broadway finally crosses with the Trans-Manhattan Expressway, it gives up its name and simply continues as US Highway 9.
Broadway rarely comes alone
In Manhattan there is only one, the world-famous Broadway. The city of New York as a whole has a few more to offer. The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island each have a street that bears this name.
Broadway at a glance
- The origins go back to a beaten track by the Indians
- The total length is more than 25 kilometers
- The Dutch widened the “Breede Weg”, the English renamed it “Broadway”
- Wall Street, Freedom Tower and Ground Zero are almost directly on Broadway
- Times Square runs as part of Broadway through New York’s theater district
- In the Upper West Side, Broadway is becoming a posh residential street