Seeking Main Street

Main Street, New York: Broadway is Like 'a Human Highway'

Most towns call it Main Street, but in New York City, it's Broadway. Spanning 33 miles, it's a mash-up of cultures, commerce and fantasy.

. Broadway and Morris Street: The journey along Broadway in New York starts near the southern tip of Manhattan, where the Lenape Indians signed the land, then called New Amsterdam, to the Dutch in 1626. Broadway is a modernization of the Native American Wickquasgeck Trail, a trade route for transport to other tribes, and later European settlers. Today, Broadway is considered by many to be New York City's Main Street.

Near the southern end of the island, Broadway crosses Wall Street, a center of world finance. A statue called Charging Bull gifted by sculptor Arturo Di Modica sits at the top of Bowling Green Park. It was finished in 1989 "as a way to celebrate the can-do spirit of America and especially New York, where people from all other the world could come regardless of their origin or circumstances, and through determination and hard work overcome every obstacle to become successful," according to the official website. It is a constant tourist attraction near Wall Street. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and Liberty Street: Zuccotti Park is a mix of office workers and builders having lunch in an area where office buildings and housing are under construction in downtown Manhattan. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and Warren Street: A man reads on a bench in City Hall Park as bikers and commuters pass by in an area called Civic Center in Manhattan. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and Chambers Street: The Manhattan Municipal Building is seen from Broadway. At 580 feet, it is one of the largest government buildings in the world, with government space for the city's five boroughs and housing over 2,000 people. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and Prince Street: Shoppers and pedestrians line Broadway during the day in SoHo (named after its location "south of Houston" Street). SoHo has transformed over the years from land granted to freed slaves of Dutch West Indies Company, to a collection of sweatshops, an artist colony and recently a commercial area. Many artists still remain. The art deco Chrysler Building is seen in the distance, rising just over 1,000 feet. It was the tallest building in the world for 11 months until the Empire State Building surpassed it. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and Spring Street: Joshua Hernandez, 30, from the Bronx, is an artist. He says of Broadway, "It's like a human highway. Broadway would definitely be the Main Street and Times Square would be the Mecca. Broadway is always packed." He has worked in the area for a while as a graffiti artist. He added, "A lot of art is on the street. It's all around. I like the grit. I understand it." Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and Bleecker Street: The Bleecker Tower, formerly the Manhattan Savings Institution built in 1889 and designed by architect Stephen Decatur Hatch, is a copper-topped corner building and one of the turn-of-the-century architectural gems of NoHo (named after its location "north of Houston" Street). Once the site of a great bank robbery, the restored building houses loft residences. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and Washington Place: Sadio Ballo of Harlem, 34, is the CEO of Swiff Couriers. As a bike messenger, he says, "I've been riding Broadway for 14 years. It's the Main Street. There is no question about it. You encounter so much craziness you become accustomed to it. A day becomes awkward if you don't see craziness." In the background, his friends have left their bikes to get together after a day of riding. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and E. 14th Street: Broadway crosses through Union Square, a meeting place at all hours. A park offers shade while broad steps often provide seats for passers-by engaged in people watching, viewing street performances, political and cultural demonstrations. The homeless are also part of the panorama, in a city where the average rent is over $3,000/month, according to REIS Inc. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and 5th Avenue: The Flatiron Building fits into one of the many triangular spaces left in Manhattan by Broadway being a diagonal thoroughfare in a grid of a city. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and 5th Avenue. The 2014 NYC Pride March floats by Broadway on its way down 5th Avenue. The march started in 1970 to commemorate the Stonewall Riots the year prior which launched the Gay Rights Movement. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and 33rd Street: The Empire State Building peeps through the buildings seen from the corner of Broadway and 33rd Street. The observation deck on the 86th floor is a popular tourist destination. Construction began on March 17, 1930, and was completed in May of the following year. The lights were turned on and the building was opened by President Herbert Hoover in Washington, D.C., with the press of a button. The 200-foot tall antenna was added in 1950, five years after a B-25 bomber crashed into the 79th floor due to heavy fog. In 1994, the building started permitting weddings on Valentine's Day. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway between 34th and 35th Streets: Dancers of all ages take a free salsa dance lesson at Herald Square in front of Macy's. Free salsa, swing, Zumba, fitness and capoeira classes are held outdoors all summer long as part of the nonprofit 34th Street Partnership's offerings. Herald Square is the third busiest hub for subway traffic in New York City, behind Grand Central and Times Square. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and 42nd Street: Looking up from Broadway and 42nd Street are modern and historical buildings. This corner was the terminus of the Lincoln Highway, the first transcontinental auto highway in the United States. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and 44th Street: The Majestic Theatre is home to the longest running show on Broadway, The Phantom of the Opera. With over 10,000 performances since its opening in 1988, Andrew Lloyd Webber's show offers consistent live entertainment to some of the twelve million people who attend plays and musicals at an average of $100 a ticket each year, according to the Broadway League. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and 46th Street: Pedestrians gather around two men as they play chess at night. Broadway and 46th Street is what is known as the 'Crossroads of the World', Times Square. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and 46th Street. Valentin Lutz, 4 from Germany, wonders at the bright lights around him at night as a woman nearby takes a selfie. Times Square commerce was once dominated by the sex industry. Now, it is geared toward retail and is more family friendly. It is in the process of a three-year, $40 million project to create more pedestrian friendly spaces. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Columbus Circle Broadway and 59th Street: Morning at Columbus Circle, looking down W 59th Street from inside Time Warner Center, a convergence of Central Park West, Broadway, 59th Street, and 8th Avenue. A 70 ft statue of Christopher Columbus marks the entrance to Central Park. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway between W. 116th and W. 117th Streets: Constantine Golfin of Queens runs the House of Taste food cart by Columbia University in Morningside Heights. He came from Greece at age 16 with a love for the United States. He says, "Broadway is one of the main Main Streets and famous all over the world. This street belongs to everybody." He works sometimes 18-hour days serving students, visitors, teachers and parents. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and W 116th (aka College Walk): Columbia University students cross campus in front of Low Library with the Butler Library in the background, in Morningside Heights. The oldest institution of higher learning in New York, Columbia was once King's College founded in 1754 on lower Broadway in Manhattan. After several moves, name changes and eight years of no classes during the American Revolution, Columbia University in the City of New York found its current home in 1896. The Ivy League only went co-ed in 1983. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway and 175th Street: Bronx High School celebrates its graduation at United Palace in Washington Heights. The former theater from the 1930s is used as a church, music venue and event space. Started as the last, and most opulent, of five Loew's Wonder Theaters designed by architect Thomas Lamb, the theater housed a twin chamber, seven-story-high Robert Morton Wonder organ. The theater, seating 3,400 people, was purchased by the United Christian Evangelistic Association in 1969. Since then it has entertained crowds with acts ranging from Bob Dylan to B.B. King and Gilberto Santa Rosa. Carey Wagner / for NBC News

. Broadway between 173rd and 174th Streets: Friends raised in Washington Heights relax and chat at the day's end outside of a grocery store owned by one of them. The 1960s saw an influx of Dominicans who still reside in the neighborhood known as The Heights today. Broadway runs north for two more miles beyond this point before crossing into the Bronx and onto Yonkers. Carey Wagner / for NBC News