Times Square is known for many things – bright lights, skyscraper billboards, store after store hawking everything from cameras to souvenirs but few people notice the statues. I’m one of them. I’ve walked through Times Square a million times and didn’t see them until one early morning a few months ago.
Although I was late for work, I had to stop and take a photo. Who knew there were these statures in Times Square? And who were these people who were influential enough to have their likenesses rendered for posterity?
George M. Cohan, the first coast to coast superstar, started out at age 8 as a child performer. He was part of the group, The Four Cohans. His parents, Helen and Jeremiah, were traveling vaudeville performers and he joined them on stage as an infant. He became a successful actor, singer, dancer, playwright, composer, librettist, producer and director, and was known once as “The Man Who Owned Broadway.” Cohan’s first big hit on Broadway was Little Johnny Jones (1904) which introduced the songs Give My Regards to Broadway and The Yankee Doodle Boy. He went on to produce over fifty musicals.
Cohan was born in Providence, Rhode Island on July 3, 1878 and died on November 5, 1942.
Father Francis P. Duffy – I didn’t understand at first how or why a stature of a Catholic priest came to be in Times Square until I did a little research and made the connection to Duffy Square. The northern end of Times Square, between 45th and 47th Streets in front of the steps to the TKTS Booth, is called Duffy Square in honor of Father Francis Duffy. A chaplain for the Fighting 69th, Father Francis, a Canadian, became the most highly decorated cleric in the history of the U.S. Army.
Father Duffy was born in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada on May 2, 1871. He died in New York City on June 27, 1932. At his death, General MacArthur revealed that he had recommended Father Duffy to lead the 165th Regiment.