3. Absolute Madness: Times Square

Busy times square where Sal Paradise, a beat generation character, stands.
Sal Paradise stands in the middle of Times Square in Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road.”

As the eighth most photographed landmark in the world according to Condé Nest Traveller, Times Square is loved and hated by millions. For Kerouac, Times Square was a place of existential reckoning. When writing On The Road — a novel loosely based on his friendship with Neal Cassady — he placed Sal Paradise, the main character, in the middle of the illuminated square.

It seems that all who travel to New York end up in Times Square at some point. Kerouac wrote, “Suddenly I found myself on Times Square. I had traveled eight thousand miles around the American continent and I was back on Times Square; and right in the middle of a rush hour, too, seeing with my innocent road-eyes the absolute madness and fantastic hoorair of New York with its millions and millions hustling forever for a buck among themselves, the mad dream––grabbing, taking, giving, sighing, dying, just so they could be buried in those awful cemetery cities beyond Long Island City. The high towers of the land — the other end of the land, the place where Paper America is born.”