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The Power To Light Up Times Square

Times Square is one of the most iconic and recognizable places in the entire world. As such, it is a huge tourist attraction and on any given day, thousands of people descend on Time Square to soak in the scenery, get entertained by buskers, the Super Mario Brothers or the famous naked cowboys, and bask in the glow of arguably the largest concentration of electronic billboards and advertisements on the planet. Its easy to get caught up by the sights, sounds and smells of Times Square, but on a recent trip to the Big Apple, my curiosity was sparked by another aspect: how much power does it take to keep all of the signs, lights and billboards in Times Square lit up 24/7?

Times Square

So just how much electricity is required to keep Times Square running? Well, it is a difficult question to answer because Times Square, which stretches for about five blocks along Broadway,  is actually part of a larger power grid which also encompass the entire Theater District that runs several blocks in every direction from Times Square.  At peak usage, the New York power company, Con Edison, estimates that power consumption in the Theater District is 161 megawatts of electricity being used at once, with Times Square accounting for a decent chunk of that power consumption. So just how much is 161 megawatts of power? Well, we did some research and tried to put that number into laypersons terms and found some comparisons to show just how much electricity that actually represents.

161 Megawatts =

1) About enough energy to power 161,000 average US homes

2) Enough to power the country of Turks and Caicos

3) 3 times the amount of overall power consumed at the same time in Sierra Leone

4) Twice the electricity required to power all of the casinos in Las Vegas

5) Only about 60% of the electricity required to power Google (Gmail, search, Google Ads, and YouTube up and running 24/7 around the globe)

6) About a quarter of the output of  an average nuclear power plant

7) Enough to light up 1.6 million 100 watt light bulbs

8) The amount of energy generated by one moderate thunderstorm

 

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square Taxis Times Square

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square

Times Square

 

8 comments

  1. Just to clarify, the 161 Megawatts is an annual statistic, correct? In other words, it takes 161 Megawatts each year to power Times Square?

  2. “161 megawatts of electricity being used at once”!? Over what period of time? Your question as 24/7, in the article, but is that really for a week? If 161 megawatts is divided by 161,000 homes that gives each home 1,000 watts (1kw)? 161,000,000 watts / 161,000 homes) = 1000 watts/home. What’s the time span being used to say “powers the average home”? I’m just curious because I’ve always wanted to know how much power is used, and I can’t tell the scope of time to really get an idea of the consumption by this one section of New York, even with the theater district included. Thanks 🙂

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