History & Culture
Among world cities, it is somewhat rare to have two distinct commercial centers, but New York has both the Financial District and Midtown. A number of factors explain the emergence of Midtown: First, as white-collar workers moved uptown, businesses followed them. Second, when New York’s economy expanded, it simply outgrew the warren of streets at the tip of the island. And the instant success of the current Grand Central Terminal in 1913 shifted commercial life to the north. While Grand Central is east of Midtown West, skyscrapers began to rise there, too, after it opened, with the 1920s an especially busy period of construction. Although that boom included the opening of a number of theaters, the beginning of the Theater District dates back even earlier, to the first years of the 20th century. The crossroads of the neighborhood, and the city, Times Square received its current name in 1904 when the New York Times moved its headquarters to what was previously known as Longacre Square.