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The theaters of Broadway and the huge number of animated neon and television-style signage have long made it one of New York's iconic images, and a symbol of the intensely urban aspects of Manhattan. Times Square is the only neighborhood with a zoning ordinance requiring tenants to display bright signs. The density of illuminated signs in Times Square now rivals Las Vegas. Officially, signs in Times Square are called "spectaculars."

In 1992, the Times Square Alliance (formerly the Times Square Business Improvement District, or "BID" for short), a coalition of businesses dedicated to improving the quality of commerce and cleanliness in the district, started operations in the area. Times Square now boasts attractions such as ABC's Times Square Studios, where Good Morning America is broadcast live, elaborate Toys "R" Us, Virgin Records, and Hershey's stores, as well as restaurants such as Ruby Foo's (Chinese food), the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (seafood) and Carmine's (Italian) along with a number of multiplex movie theaters. It has also attracted a number of large financial, publishing, and media firms to set up their headquarters in the area. A larger police presence in Times Square has improved the safety of the area. While the revitalized region is undoubtedly safer and more pleasant, some complain that the area has lost its spark and is now a thoroughly sanitized, "Disneyfied" version of its former self.

A notable example of the signage is the NASDAQ sign at the NASDAQ MarketSite at 4 Times Square on 43rd Street. Unveiled in January 2000, it cost $37 million to build. The sign is 120 feet (36.6m) high. NASDAQ pays over $2 million a year to lease the space for this sign. This is actually considered a good deal in advertising as the number of "impressions" the sign makes far exceeds those generated by other ad forms.

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Additional Photos by Louise Robitaille (Gromit) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Silver Note Writer [C: 42 W: 10 N: 40] (442)
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