Many a bright-eyed dreamer has spent years in high school productions fantasizing about New York and the heralded Broadway. The street name is simple, common and uninteresting on the surface, but mention it to any theater aficionado and visions of guys, dolls and glitzy productions come to mind.
What is it about Broadway that has fueled imaginations since vaudevillian times? Is it the promise of an artist’s dreams fulfilled? The money that comes with the fame of a star? Or is it pictures of Broadway lit up with thousands of neon lights, earning the moniker “The Great White Way”. Sure some of those lights were bulbs, but we all know that neon made Broadway what it is.
The theaters are all aglow on a typical fall evening, people are dressed in casual comfort as they make their way to the theater and production of their choice. There are so many to choose from, and many are not actually on Broadway (only four theaters are on the street, but there are many within a short distance).
The Great White Way got its name because it was one of the first streets in the United States to be lit with electricity. In the 1890’s the theaters started to get lights on their marquis, and inside, and by the turn of the century most of the theaters on the street (there used to be a lot more actually on Broadway) were lit with colorful displays.
The bulbs though could never be as inventive and fun as neon inspired lighting, so when neon lights came around Broadway was again one of the first streets to adopt the technology. Marquis were then faced with neon and color came to the Great White Way.
Now no one can imagine this scene of the great American theater city without its colorful, leading neon gateways. Showing off is just what show people do and neon allows them to do it with even more style.