After its most recent owners went bankrupt in 1992, the building was sold to Lehman Brothers. Rather than house new tenants in the tower, they had more lucrative residents in mind: ads. Shitloads and shitloads of ads. The firm had large screens crudely attached to the facade of the building, and now One Times Square rakes in $23 million a year, despite having zero tenants.
Unless the graffiti-scrawling ghosts count as tenants.
OK, they have a Walgreens on the ground floor. Other than that, the building's only current inhabitant is the New Year's ball, which sits alone on the roof all year, dreading its next encounter with Ryan Seacrest's face.
It draws upward and shrinks from the thought of those teeth.
When Lehman Brothers sold the building to another firm in 1997, they did so for an obscene 300-percent profit. These days, the building is worth $495 million, and each billboard rents for between $1 million and $2.4 million annually. That's, like, at least twice as expensive as renting a hotel room in that area.
With that kind of money, you could build your own naked cowboy.
So when you're watching the ball drop on New Year's, remember that you're watching it fall onto a building full of nothing but empty halls and abandoned office space, making it exactly as full of character as Times Square itself.
Times Square: a tourist attraction of Super Bowl commercials.