Grateful American® Foundation

Who first called NYC’s Broadway, “The Great White Way?”

December 20th

manhattan301December 20, 1880 — A stretch of Broadway between Union Square and Madison Square was illuminated tonight by Brush arc lamps, making it among the first electrically lighted streets in the United States.

It wasn’t until February 3, 1902 that reporter Shep Friedman — a columnist for the New York Morning Telegraph — published an article with the headline: “Found on the Great White Way.” That has been the namesake ever since.

Of course, the tradition of theater on Broadway began nearly 150 years earlier when in 1732, the whole of New York theatrical activity was taking place in an empty space near the intersection of Maiden Lane and Pearl Street. It eventually moved to other undocumented empty spaces and lots around the city — and by the middle of the 18th century, New York theater had finally become an institution.

Words of Wisdom

What's more New York than the Great White Way, which is Broadway. Broadway without being ablaze with light would not be Broadway.

— Writer Sarah Henry

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