The Greatest Street in the World – Stephen Jenkins
When all its phases are taken in the aggregate, Broadway holds a position that is unique and pre-eminent among the great avenues of the world. In this book Mr. Jenkins has presented the whole history of Broadway, old and new, through all the miles of its long course from the Bowling Green to Albany; its historic associations from pre-Revolutionary times to the present, its theatres and the actors that made them famous, its literary incidents and personalities, the busy hum of city life that rises heavenward between its towering buildings, and all the abundant energy that flows through it ceaselessly.
The Greatest Street in the World.
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Route description of the Broadway (from Wikipedia):
Broadway runs the length of Manhattan Island, roughly parallel to the North River (the portion of the Hudson River bordering Manhattan), 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. Since 2009, vehicular traffic has been 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 until its junction with NY 117.
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 River 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.
Because Broadway preceded the grid that the Commissioners‘ Plan of 1811 imposed on the island, Broadway crosses midtown Manhattan diagonally, intersecting with both the east-west streets and north-south avenues. Broadway’s intersections with avenues, marked by „squares“ (some merely triangular slivers of open space), have induced some interesting architecture, such as the Flatiron Building.
At Union Square, Broadway crosses 14th Street, merges with Fourth Avenue, and continues its diagonal uptown course from the Square’s northwest corner; Union Square is the only location wherein the physical section of Broadway is discontinuous in Manhattan (other portions of Broadway in Manhattan are pedestrian-only plazas). At Madison Square, the location of the Flatiron Building, Broadway crosses Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street, and is discontinuous to vehicles for a one-block stretch between 24th and 25th Streets. At Greeley Square (West 33rd Street), Broadway crosses Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas), and is discontinuous to vehicles. Macy’s Herald Square department store, one block north of the vehicular discontinuity, is located on the northwest corner of Broadway and West 34th Street and southwest corner of Broadway and West 35th Street; 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 or the Great White Way, a nickname originating in the headline „Found on the Great White Way“ in the edition of February 3, 1902 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 the city’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, 2007.
Upper West Side
At the southwest corner of Central Park, Broadway crosses Eighth Avenue (called Central Park West north of 59th Street) at West 59th Street and Columbus Circle; 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. From Columbus Circle northward, Broadway becomes a wide boulevard to 169th Street; it retains landscaped center islands that separate northbound from southbound traffic. The medians are a vestige of the central mall of „The Boulevard“ that had become the spine of the Upper West Side, and many of these contain public seating.
Broadway intersects with Columbus Avenue (known as Ninth Avenue south of West 59th Street) at West 65th and 66th Streets where the Juilliard School and Lincoln Center, both well-known performing arts landmarks, as well as the Manhattan New York Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are located.
Between West 70th and 73rd Streets, Broadway intersects with Amsterdam Avenue (known as 10th Avenue south of West 59th Street). The wide intersection of the two thoroughfares has historically been the site of numerous traffic accidents and pedestrian casualties, partly due to the long crosswalks. Two small triangular plots of land were created at points where Broadway slices through Amsterdam Avenue. One is a tiny fenced-in patch of shrubbery and plants at West 70th Street called Sherman Square (although it and the surrounding intersection have also been known collectively as Sherman Square), and the other triangle is a lush tree-filled garden bordering Amsterdam Avenue from just above West 72nd Street to West 73rd Street. Named Verdi Square in 1921 for its monument to Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi, which was erected in 1909, this triangular sliver of public space was designated a Scenic Landmark by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1974, one of nine city parks that have received the designation. In the 1960s and 1970s, the area surrounding both Verdi Square and Sherman Square was known by local drug users and dealers as „Needle Park“, and was featured prominently in the gritty 1971 dramatic film The Panic in Needle Park, directed by Jerry Schatzberg and starring Al Pacino in his second onscreen role.
The original brick and stone shelter leading to the entrance of the 72nd Street subway station, one of the first 28 subway stations in Manhattan, remains located on one of the wide islands in the center of Broadway, on the south side of West 72nd Street. For many years, all traffic on Broadway flowed on either side of this median and its subway entrance, and its uptown lanes went past it along the western edge of triangular Verdi Square. In 2001 and 2002, renovation of the historic 72nd Street station and the addition of a second subway control house and passenger shelter on an adjacent center median just north of 72nd Street, across from the original building, resulted in the creation of a public plaza with stone pavers and extensive seating, connecting the newer building with Verdi Square, and making it necessary to divert northbound traffic to Amsterdam Avenue for one block. While Broadway’s southbound lanes at this intersection were unaffected by the new construction, its northbound lanes are no longer contiguous at this intersection. Drivers can either continue along Amsterdam Avenue to head uptown or turn left on West 73rd Street to resume traveling on Broadway.
Several notable apartment buildings are in close proximity to this intersection, including The Ansonia, its ornate architecture dominating the cityscape here. After the Ansonia first opened as a hotel, live seals were kept in indoor fountains inside its lobby. Later, it was home to the infamous Plato’s Retreat nightclub. Immediately north of Verdi Square is the formidable Apple Bank for Savings building, formerly the Central Savings Bank, which was built in 1926 and designed to resemble the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Broadway is also home to the Beacon Theatre at West 74th Street, designated a national landmark in 1979 and still in operation as a concert venue after its establishment in 1929 as a vaudeville and music hall, and „sister“ venue to Radio City Music Hall.
At its intersection with West 78th Street, Broadway shifts direction and continues directly uptown and aligned approximately with the Commissioners‘ grid. Past the bend are the historic Apthorp apartment building, built in 1908, and the First Baptist Church in the City of New York, incorporated in New York in 1762, its current building on Broadway erected in 1891. The road heads north and passes historically important apartment houses such as the Belnord, the Astor Court Building, and the Art Nouveau Cornwall.
At Broadway and 95th Street is Symphony Space, established in 1978 as home to avant-garde and classical music and dance performances in the former Symphony Theatre, which was originally built in 1918 as a premier „music and motion-picture house“. At 99th Street, Broadway passes between the controversial skyscrapers of the Ariel East and West.
At 107th Street, Broadway merges with West End Avenue, with the intersection forming Straus Park with its Titanic Memorial by Augustus Lukeman.
Northern Manhattan and the Bronx
Broadway then passes the campus of Columbia University at 116th Street in Morningside Heights, in part on the tract that housed the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum from 1808 until it moved to Westchester County in 1894. Still in Morningside Heights, Broadway passes the park-like campus of Barnard College. Next, the Gothic quadrangle of Union Theological Seminary and the brick buildings of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America with their 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 near 135th Street; the Gothic buildings of the original City College campus are out of sight, a block to the east. Also to the east are the brownstones of Hamilton Heights. Hamilton Place is a surviving section of Bloomingdale Road, and originally the address of Alexander Hamilton’s house, The Grange, which has been moved.
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 near 155th Street.
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital lies on Broadway near 166th, 167th, and 168th Streets in Washington Heights. The intersection with Saint Nicholas Avenue at 167th Street forms Mitchell Square Park. At 178th Street, U.S. 9 becomes concurrent with Broadway.
Broadway crosses the Harlem River on the Broadway Bridge to Marble Hill. Afterward, it then enters the Bronx, where it is the eastern border of Riverdale and the western border of Van Cortlandt Park. At 253rd Street, NY 9A joins with U.S. 9 and Broadway. (NY 9A splits off Broadway at Ashburton Avenue in Yonkers.)
The northwestern corner of the park marks the city limit and Broadway enters Yonkers, where it is now known as South Broadway. It trends ever westward, closer to the Hudson River, remaining a busy urban commercial street. In downtown Yonkers, it drops close to the river, becomes North Broadway and 9A leaves via Ashburton Avenue. Broadway climbs to the nearby ridgetop runs parallel to the river and the railroad, a few blocks east of both as it passes St. John’s Riverside Hospital. The neighborhoods become more residential and the road gently undulates along the ridgetop. In Yonkers, Broadway passes historic Philipse Manor house, which dates back to colonial America.
It remains Broadway as it leaves Yonkers for Hastings-on-Hudson, where it splits into separate north and south routes for 0.6 miles (1.0 km). The trees become taller and the houses, many separated from the road by stone fences, become larger. Another National Historic Landmark, the John William Draper House, was the site of the first astrophotograph of the Moon.
In the next village, Dobbs Ferry, Broadway has various views of the Hudson River while passing through the residential section. Broadway passes by the Old Croton Aqueduct and nearby the shopping district of the village. After intersecting with Ashford Avenue, Broadway passes Mercy College, then turns left again at the center of town just past South Presbyterian Church, headed for equally comfortable Ardsley-on-Hudson and Irvington. Villa Lewaro, the home of Madam C.J. Walker, the first African-American millionaire, is along the highway here. At the north end of the village of Irvington, a memorial to writer Washington Irving, after whom the village was renamed, marks the turnoff to his home at Sunnyside. Entering into the southern portion of Tarrytown, Broadway passes by historic Lyndhurst mansion, a massive mansion built along the Hudson River built in the early 1800s.
North of here, at the Kraft Foods technical center, the Tappan Zee Bridge becomes visible. After crossing under the Thruway and I-87 again, here concurrent with I-287, and then intersecting with the four-lane NY 119, where 119 splits off to the east, Broadway becomes the busy main street of Tarrytown. Christ Episcopal Church, where Irving worshiped, is along the street. Many high quality restaurants and shops are along this main road. This downtown ends at the eastern terminus of NY 448, where Broadway slopes off to the left, downhill, and four signs indicate that Broadway turns left, passing the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow, another NHL. The road then enters Sleepy Hollow (formerly North Tarrytown), passing the visitors‘ center for Kykuit, the National Historic Landmark that was (and partially still is) the Rockefeller family’s estate. Broadway then passes the historic Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, which includes the resting place of Washington Irving and the setting for The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Broadway expands to four lanes at the trumpet intersection with NY 117, where it finally ends and U.S. 9 becomes Albany Post Road (and Highland Avenue) at the northern border of Sleepy Hollow, New York.
(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)
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