On the island of Manhattan as it was when it was discovered by the Dutch, the Great Kill (Dutch: Grote Kill), which formed from three small streams that united near 10th Avenue and 40th street, wound through the low-lying Reed Valley renowned for fish and waterfowl to empty into the Hudson River at a deep bay on the river at the present 42nd Street. The name was retained in a tiny hamlet, Great Kill, that became a center for carriage-making, as the upland to the south and east became known as Longacre by the mid-19th century, after Long Acre, similarly a carriage-making district in London, that was also a home to stables. William Henry Vanderbilt owned and ran the American Horse Exchange there until the turn of the 20th century.
As more profitable commerce and industrialization of lower Manhattan pushed homes, theaters, and prostitution northward from the Tenderloin District, Long Acre Square became nicknamed the Thieves Lair for its rollicking reputation as a low entertainment district. The first theater on the square, the Olympia, was built by cigar manufacturer and impresario Oscar Hammerstein I. "By the early 1890s this once sparsely settled stretch of Broadway was ablaze with electric light and thronged by crowds of middle- and upper-class theatre, restaurant and cafe patrons."
It was renamed Times Square on April 8, 1904, by proclamation of Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. at the urging of Adolph Ochs, owner and publisher of the New York Times. The north end later became Duffy Square.
- Gerard T. Koeppel, Water for Gotham: A History, 2001:10.
- Edric W. Sanderson, Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City, 2009: Appendix A p 253; refs. G.E. Hill and G.E. Waring Jr, "Old wells and water-courses on the isle of Manhattan", in Historic New York, M.W. Goodwin, A.C. Royce, and R. Putnam, 1897; and others.
- Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, 1999:721.
- Welcome to Long Acre W2CE
- Burrows and Wallace 1999:1149.
- Brown, H. Valentine's Manual of Old New York. Valentine, 1922
- Fazio, W. Times Square, Children's Press, 2000 [ISBN 0-516-26530-X]
- Friedman, J. Tales of Times Square Feral House, 1993 [ISBN 0-922915-17-2]
- Taylor, W. Inventing Times Square, Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1996 [ISBN 0-8018-5337-0]
- Traub, J. The Devil's Playground Random House, 2004 [ISBN 0-375-75978-6]
- Media related to Times Square at Wikimedia Commons