The History & Significance of Electric Advertising in Times Square

Posted by

Gabiella Haines

Title: The History & Significance of Electric Advertising in Times Square  

Photo by Marc Chong on Unsplash


When people think of New York, the bright LED billboards illuminating Times Square are usually the first thing that comes to mind. They have become a recognizable symbol of New York ever since they were first unveiled- Times Square proves the importance of bright, recognizable signage. However, before LED ads were present in New York, other forms of light-up advertising were apart of Times Square’s allure.

Early Electric Advertising in Times Square: A Timeline

In May 1904, Times Square’s first electric advertisement is erected on the side of a bank.
Broadway gained the nickname “The Great White Way,” after the bright white lights lining the buildings on the street. It became one of the first streets in America to be fully lit by electric light, and during this time, it wasn’t uncommon for people to walk the streets at night to see the lights. The nickname stuck around as more electric ads in Times Square contributed to the spectacle in the 1920’s.
In 1917, Wrigley displayed one of the biggest electric signs at the time in Times Square. The huge sign became a tourist attraction. The sign was a full block long, and crowds would gather to ogle it at night.
This year marked the introduction of neon signage to America, and the streets of New York embraced this new form of advertising. Neon signage has become outdated. The far more efficient, bright, and reliable LEDs have replaced old neon signs. 


Thanks to their unique look, several business owners keep their original neon signs up in New York today. However, LED signs have proven themselves to be the better choice for companies when it comes to showcasing ads. LEDs- like those in Green Light’s business signs- are customizable and can change color easily. This means that they are excellent for business owners that want to customize lights to match their exact branding.
Photo by Kevin Rajaram on Unsplash

Significant Events in Times Square Advertising:

When the first electric sign was put up in Times Square, it marked the beginning of a new era in advertising. As the ads become more advanced, the awe people feel when looking at Times Square has only grown. 
  • In 2014, Clear Channel introduced the biggest billboard in Times Square’s history. The billboard is eight stories high, and costs $2.5 million per month to rent. Google was the first company to advertise on it.
  • In 2017, Coca Cola unveiled the world’s first 3D robotic billboard in Times Square. The billboard is six stories tall, and made up of over 1,700 computerized LED modules. 

Above all, companies have to consider if their ad is eye-catching. Although, your small business may not be as large as Google or Coca-Cola, you can still catch your customers’ eyes with bright business signage. Investing in a Green Light Innovations open sign is a great way to attract customers’ attention without breaking the bank.


People fly from all over the world to gawk at the advertisements and marvel at Times Square. From the first electric sign put up in Times Square to the introduction of LED billboards, Times Square has come a long way in advertising, but you don’t need to be a big corporation to appreciate the value of bright, attention-getting signage. You can recreate the magic of Times Square for a fraction of the price with a bright LED open sign from Green Light Innovations!