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Broadway attracts thousands of visitors and tourists because of its abundant theaters and eye-catching lights of Times Square. It also happens to have a very rich history that goes back centuries. The part of Broadway running directly through the Theater District and Times Square is packed with theaters, cinemas, and restaurants.

Broadway history

Manhattan’s earliest inhabitants, the Native Americans, first inhabited the Wickquasgeck Trail. We know this trail as Broadway Street. Workers carved the trail through swamps and rocks along the length of Manhattan Island. The Indians used it daily. Later, the trail became the main transit road through the island from Nieuw Amsterdam upon the arrival of the Dutch.

Broadway Watercolor Painting
Broadway Watercolor Painting

In the 18th century, Broadway ended at the two town commons North of Wall Street. At the time, that was where traffic continued up the West side of Manhattan island via Bloomingdale Road. During the 19th century, workers paved and widened Bloomingdale Road, and renamed it, “Western Boulevard”. In 1899, the official name “Broadway” covered the entire area containing Broadway and the Western Boulevard.

Theater District

There are so many theatrical productions in NY that there’s one on almost every corner of the streets. However, that hasn’t always been the case. Back in 1732, theatrical activity took place anywhere available with decent conditions. For example, an empty space near the intersection of Maiden Lane and Pearl Street. Then, however, New York Theater had finally become an institution, much to the comfort and convenience of theater enthusiasts.

During the 1800’s, some fine theaters were located on Broadway, including one that was one of the most noted among the upper social classes, the theater inside Niblo’s Garden. Around the 1870’s, changes such as the incandescent lightbulb caught on in a trend among theater owners and operators, and by the 1890’s, all the gas lamps that filled the New York streets were replaced by more convenient and complex lighting systems, especially in the Times Square District. Since Broadway became one of the first streets to fully be lit by electric lights, it was named, “The Great White Way”.

Broadway Oil Painting
Broadway Oil Painting

The art and photo offered at do a great job of using different bright colors to draw all focus to the famed billboards of Times Square, and the many people strolling through the streets and taking in the view. Some photos focus specifically on the unique building at the crossing of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, known as the Flatiron Building. The art also captures some of New York’s all-time famous plays on Broadway, such as “The Phantom of the Opera”, “Cats”, “Les Miserables”, and more. Buy these artworks and photos to enjoy the view of one of the most intriguing and historically rich places in all of New York from your own home.