Running along Broadway and Seventh Ave. between 41st and 53rd streets, the Broadway Theater District is the most famous theater district in the world. Each of the 40 theaters of “The Great White Way” seat at least 500 people, and host a continually changing variety of productions including plays and musicals.
It was the Metropolitan Opera House that first initiated Broadway’s rise to fame back in 1883. Other lavish theaters and restaurants soon followed. In the 1920’s, movie palaces followed, adding to the glamour and neon of Broadway. But after World War II, the popularity of movies and theater waned. Filling the void left by the closing theaters were adult movie houses, sleazy entertainment and widespread crime. Fortunately, a redevelopment program implemented in the 1980’s has driven out the slime, luring the bright lights and theater-going public back to Broadway.
The resurgent Broadway Theater District is now one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York City. And it’s popularity is booming, thanks to redevelopment, and the record breaking success of hit shows such as Hamilton, Les Miserables and The Book of Mormon. In 2014, Broadway shows sold a record 13 million tickets worth $1.4 billion, an increase of 14% over the previous year. Although you can find discounts on Broadway show tickets (see below), the average ticket price for a show on the “Great White Way” recently passed the $100 mark for the first time.
Broadway Theater District — Trip Tips
There are dozens of shows playing on Broadway at any given time. While it would be quite an experience to see every Broadway play, that’s probably not realistic for the average NYC visitor. Before you go, here are a few things you should keep in mind when planning your visit to Broadway:
- If you don't already have tickets, go to the TKTS booth in Times Square at Broadway and 47th Street. Operated by the nonprofit Theatre Development Fund, TKTS sells discount Broadway tickets for many popular shows for 20% to 50% off normal ticket price.
- If possible, visit during the evening. The bright neon lights on the theater marquees and billboard advertisements, along with the night time energy make it a completely different experience.
- Although there is a significant police presence and the area feels safe, Broadway and Times Square is a very busy and crowded district. Be careful to stay close to those in your party so you don't become separated and lost.
- Costumed street entertainers (e.g., Spider Man, Mickey Mouse, etc.) abound in this area. Be aware: If you have a photo taken with them, they expect to be paid.