As its name would suggest, Broadway is a wide street in New York City that runs the full length of Manhattan, from its southern tip at Bowling Green to its northern tip at Inwood and even on into the Bronx.
It's the oldest north-south street in New York City, existing as a Native American path since before the city was first settled and called New Amsterdam.
Even though there are many famous sites along the several miles of Broadway, one small stretch comes to mind when most people hear the word “Broadway." It's the part of Broadway between 42nd and 53rd streets — including Times Square — that is considered the home of the American theater industry.
This famous section of Broadway is known as the Theater District. You will also often hear it called “The Great White Way."
This nickname came about because Broadway was one of the first streets in the United States to be lit with electric lights. The nickname remains popular today because millions of lights on theater marquees and billboard advertisements still light up the night sky along Broadway.
The Theater District is home to 40 large professional theaters. Each of these theaters seats 500 or more people. They host a constantly changing variety of productions, including plays and musicals.
Many people believe the theatrical productions on Broadway are the best in the world. Each year, the best Broadway shows are awarded Tony Awards.
Broadway shows are one of the most popular tourist attractions in New York City. In 2010, Broadway shows sold more than $1 billion in tickets!
Because many of the shows are popular and quite profitable, they often run for years and years, only closing when they stop drawing new audiences and become unprofitable.
The longest-running musical in Broadway history is The Phantom of the Opera. It opened on Broadway in 1988 and is still going strong today, giving more than 9,500 performances to date.
The Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera has made more than $715 million dollars, making it the most financially successful Broadway show in history. It also won the 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical.