The stretch of Broadway that runs through Midtown Manhattan is always an overwhelming sensory experience — but, this week, it's even more intense.
A thirteen-block stretch of the street has been transformed into a crazy Super Bowl mega-event. We checked it out so you wouldn't have to.
The converted Super Bowl version of Broadway begins right outside of the Macy's on 34th street. A vivid, projection-mapped video plays every 30 minutes across the building's historic facade. ESPN set up a temporary studio right next to the massive store, where you can watch sports broadcasters report every day leading up to the big game.
Each street crossing has a specially-built sign that informs people where specific booths are. Styled after the street signs seen around New York City, these become a clever way to help guide countless visitors who have no idea where they're going:
Of course, the first major stop along Super Bowl Boulevard is a monument to the great states of New York and New Jersey. Made up of 12 video pillars; the interactive piece displays different areas and aspects of the two states when they're most beautiful — which, coincidentally, is always in the summer. It's a nice touch, even if you can't actually feel the warm wind off the Atlantic.
One detail of the Boulevard that isn't intentionally noticeable? The heavy police presence. There are always a lot of police officers in Times Square, but Super Bowl Boulevard has amplified the effect. At every cross street, the FDNY and NYPD keep an eye on the crowd:
A few minutes after the sun set, the Empire State Building lit up in the colours of the dueling teams. And, thanks to the recent overhaul of its lighting system, it even played a little animated light show.
Further down Broadway, Xbox has set up a tent for people to play sports games. Thankfully, given the freezing temperatures, you're allowed to stay as long as you want. As you might expect, it's a crowded tent — which is exactly the point for Microsoft, just one of many sponsors of Super Bowl Boulevard.
One of the most remarkable things about the Boulevard wasn't actually the sponsored booths or interactive experiences — it was the sheer amount of back-end infrastructure that powers the whole operation. Every side street that intersects Broadway is packed with tends filled with supplies, reporting booths, and other behind-the-scenes support services:
The most exciting (and sensational) part of the whole setup, of course, is the "Toboggan Run:" a block-long slide that undoubtedly is a lot of fun — if you have the patience for the line. Great for tourists, and entertaining for Manhattanites, this is something worth making a trip for before it all comes down on Sunday.