UYC’s Walks: Duffy Square

This weekend I had a friend visiting from Europe that had not only never been to NYC before, but had never been the the US.  I posted the question on Twitter “Have a friend visiting who’s never been to #NYC before. What’s the FIRST thing I should take her to do? ”  By and large, the response was universally: take her to Times Square.  So, my friends, this week’s edition of UYC’s Walks takes you to none other than the very center of Times Square, Duffy Square.


Starting Point

Take just about any train to 42nd Street Times Square, and head to the heart of it all, i.e. Duffy Square, located between 45th and 47th Streets in between Broadway and Seventh Avenues.  The Square was named for Chaplain Francis P. Duffy, who was in the Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment.  Today, the square is most famously known for the TKTS reduced-price theater tickets booth located there, and the rising staircase that tourists can be seen lounging on day and night.  Helllllloooo photo opp!


“Can art change the world?  Maybe…we should change the question: can art change people’s lives?” -JR

We just happened to be visiting on the last day of the photo installation, Inside Out New York City.  The artist JR and his team invited New Yorkers and tourists alike to take self-portraits, showing the world what they stand for, in a photo booth truck stationed in Duffy Sqare, ironically the site of the world’s first ever photo booth almost 100 years ago.  According to their website (as of 10:19pm May 12th), there have been 5,836 portraits taken in the booth since April 18th, 2013.



Once your photo was taken, you can choose to either take it home or paste it right on the ground of Duffy Square…and let’s get real…what’s cooler than having your portrait pasted in the center of the universe?  While this exhibit may not be around by the time you’re taking this stroll, make sure to visit the Times Square website for a list of new exhibits and events that are happening daily!  Never a dull moment in Duffy Square, that’s for sure.



And of course you simply can’t leave Duffy Square without a visit to my favorite cheesecake restaurant in all of Manhattan…Juniors!  Located at West 45th between Broadway and 8th Avenue, Junior’s has been my go-to dessert spot after every Broadway show I’ve seen.  If you’re a chocolate lover, I highly recommend the Devil’s Food Cheesecake, if not, go for the Red Velvet (pictured below!).



And finally, whether you’re playing tour guide or not, a visit to the Marriott Marquis hotel’s top floor restaurant, The View, is absolutely in order.  A rotating restaurant, you will get a full view of NYC within the hour that your dinner is served.  Drinks are, or course, highly overpriced, but it’s worth the (amazing!) elevator ride to the top and a quick sneak peak around.  Don’t worry, you can always claim you were a tourist and didn’t know any better.


What’s your favorite part of visiting Duffy Square?


By: Jessica Tiare Bowen 






  • Nikki Tan says:

    I would love to visit Times Square :) I have never been to that place and my friends always tell me that New York is really nice. I would love to go on shopping in New York :)

  • Abby Ang says:

    Hello there!

    Thank you very much for sharing this post. I have never been to New York and would definitely love to visit this place together with my family :)


  • Marcia says:

    Times Square is the coolest and best intro to NYC there is whether you’re coming from abroad, from another state, or heck, even from upstate.
    I’m so sorry I missed this. Had I been in NYC, my face would have been right there.
    Gosh, can’t wait for my ankle to heal so I can be back in NYC!!!

  • memographer says:

    Certainly, Times Square is a must see place in NYC, Jess! I love its heart-bit and always feel myself alive there.
    You can’t go wrong taking first-timers to any NYC touristy attraction- Statue of Liberty, Central Park, 5th Avenue… and many many more.

    • Used York City says:

      Times Square is certainly the pulse of the city…a must-see for any first timers!:-)

  • Never heard of Duffy Square, but I love it! I have been to NY about 5 years ago and I think my favourite part to visit was Greenwich. I loved the slightly bohemian feel about it with the cafes, record shops etc.

    • Used York City says:

      Ahh, yes, Greenwich Village! Stay tuned, we will be walking there in the very near future!:-)

  • Hey Jess, what a perfect place to take a first-timer in NYC. I avoid Times Square (like a typical local, ha! ha!) but i don’t mind going if I have a friend/relative visiting fo the first time. What a great timing you had with that fun photobooth exhibit. Ahh, The View — it never fails to awe all the first times I took there. Nice photos.

    • Used York City says:

      Thanks Marisol! I was really happy I got to check out the photo exhibit, lol, probably wouldn’t have made it down there if it weren’t for my out-of-towner!;-) Perfect timing!

  • Maria says:

    You scored a AAA+ on this one. Great idea to hit Times Square and glad to hear your pal survived without panic attacks. *laugh* There’s always so much to see there and if it happens to be a “slow” day, you’re still guaranteed great people watching. :-)

    • Used York City says:

      Why thank you, Maria! I figured we can’t do NYC walks and NOT hit Times Square at some point!;-)

  • jill says:

    I’m curious – do New Yorkers avoid Times Square like a plague in general? We live near Union Square here in San Francisco – it gets crowded like crazy (but not like Times Sq, of course). I love to just sit in the middle and watch tourists having fun.

    • Used York City says:

      For the most part…yes:-) I typically only go there when people are visiting or I’m going to see a show…although people watching is half the fun, for sure!

  • Salika Jay says:

    Photo Booth sounds so cool. Wish they kept something like a smaller size of the photo pasted, maybe changing every year considering the high number of photos. Red Velvet looks yum!

  • my fav places have to be central park and the russian tea rooms! Times Square I rmeember as just a little grubby…but I guess it might well have changed!

    • Used York City says:

      Haha, well it’s not the *classiest* spot in NYC, for sure, but there’s always something interesting going on there…even for the locals!

  • Scarlett says:

    How have I never heard of Duffy square??? Looks fab! xx

    • Used York City says:

      It’s the small little square inside Times Square…although most people just refer to it as Times Square!;-)

  • Andrea says:

    Didn’t know that area had a name – love the photo booth project!

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