Where the @$&# is Broadway anyway?

If you asked a NYer where Broadway was, they’d probably point you to the street that runs the length of Manhattan.

If you said, “No, where’s the Broadway they talk about in books,” they’d probably look at you funny,  maybe point you to Times Square and say that’s where most of the theaters are.

They’d have to explain that Broadway doesn’t have an exact physical destination.

Which is why I think it’s time we give it one.

I did something I’ve always wanted to do this weekend and made the drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, two tourist destinations that do a very good job of telling you exactly where you are and making a tourist attraction out of it.

How do they do it?  The old-fasioned way.  With a sign.

The Hollywood sign is one of the most famous landmarks in the LA area.  It screams from the hills that you have entered the land of the silver screen.  It even has a website!  And on that website the sign is described by Hugh Hefner as “not simply a sign but a symbol of inspiration.”

In Vegas, when you’re driving down the strip towards the man-made mecca in the desert, you are first greeted by the infamous Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas sign which was put up in 1959.  It even has a Wikipedia entry!  And more importantly it has a place where you can stop your car, get out, and have your picture taken next to it.

On Broadway . . . we’ve got . . . eh . . . uh . . . huh.

We don’t seem to have a symbol or sign that we’ve entered the theatrical capital of the world.  Sure there are street signs that say Broadway, and there’s the statue of George M. Cohan in Duffy Square, and maybe even the Red Steps and the TKTS booth (but I’m not sure we want a discount destination representing where Broadway begins).  But nothing that says, “Broadway is here!”

So if we don’t have one, maybe we should make one. Maybe it’s a marquis that sits in Times Square.  Or a lit sign on 42nd St.  Or maybe the sign is written in the sidewalks (which reminds me of this blog I wrote about our own Walk of Fame).

Is this cheap?  Or even practical?  Probably not.

But I guarantee that we’d have a ton of tourists taking their pictures in front of it, and it might even inspire a few more to actually take in a show while they are in town.

And maybe, if we’re lucky, it would even have its own Wikipedia page.

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  • Joe Klein says:

    I thought we already had one, the TKTS Booth. Maybe we just need to put a BROADWAY sign there as theters stradle “Broadway” ?

  • Sage says:

    This is a really excellent idea. The cost shouldn’t matter. We should get one as soon as possible.

  • Howard says:

    Maybe (idea from your contest) the sign should just say:
    “Will It Recoup?”
    Um, on second thought, maybe not!

  • Anthony McDonald says:

    I like this idea Ken.
    I think if the League got behind it and got all the productions in a given time period to donate some money towards it I think it wouldn’t be that bad and/or if they did a drive like the industry does for We care Aids drive they do, I think it would be more than possible to pull it off.
    Another thing they could do is maybe buy a billboard? But that would be extremely expensive but one of the ones in the heart of times square. The sign though would have to be big and bright and fancy. Not just a sign like the Hollywood sign but something that would reflect the spirit and heart of what we do.

  • Jack says:

    I love this idea – Let’s make it happen

  • as Joe said, but perhaps on or in front of the steps for the TKTS booth? Not THAT expensive considering the ROI of the ongoing press and photo value.

  • What has always bothered me is I have no way of knowing what is an what is not a “Broadway” theater. I know I can always look at the official list, but are there criteria that define it, or is it just up to the arbitrary decision by the Broadway League?

  • Hey Michael, the simple answer is a theater in the Broadway area with more than 499 seats!

  • A Contrarian says:

    How about a “BROADWAY” sign for each of the theatres? Across the walls of Shubert & Booth in the Alley?

  • Stephen Buckle says:

    Spot on! Locate your location, people like to know they have arrived. Basics of marketing, positioning and anchorage.

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