NYC TKTS Booth Turns 50

On June 25, the TKTS booth in Times Square turned 50. I have written about some precursors to the discount ticketing booth The whole history is pretty fascinating, especially if you view it in the continuum of online ticket resellers.

The AP ran a story about the history of the booth. The recent $18 million renovation in 2008 resulted in the slick, glass enclosed booth with the amphitheater like seating area. However, the original booth was an abandoned trailer donated by NYC Parks Department placed with the goal of stabilizing the seedy neighborhood. I remember that original booth…and the seedy neighborhood.

Mayers and Schiff were given just $5,000 for the capital budget, and they rented scaffolding to go around the booth. They wove a translucent plastic fabric with the iconic logo among the bars and clamped spotlights on the frame.


They thought it would stay up for a year or two, at best. Instead, it won design awards and lasted decades. Their influence can be seen in the abbreviated, vowel-less apps and company titles of today — Flickr to Unbxd and DNCE.

I get a kick out of the idea that this cobbled together structure won design awards.

If you have been to Times Square recently you know it is the riotous center of activity with costumed characters available for paid selfies and people urging you to buy tickets to specific shows. The atmosphere can tend to be a little off-putting. However, the TKTS staff are not permitted to advocate for a specific show, but instead can make recommendations of multiple shows based on the genre of show you might like to see. Or you can ask other folks in line for recommendations since it can take up to 45 minutes to get through the line.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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