Nine Places That Fancy Themselves 'the Crossroads of the World'
For centuries, destinations have claimed the cosmopolitan nickname “the crossroads of the world.” Whether self-adorned or awarded by historians, travelers, and the powers that be, here are the cities, airports, and neighborhoods that have held the moniker.
With upwards of 50 million visitors annually, Times Square is undeniably the center of tourism in New York City. Named for former resident The New York Times (which is still headquartered nearby), the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue earns the current “crossroads” moniker with its confluence of locals and visitors, arts and entertainment, and its bright lights coupled with a less-than-savory history.
As central node on the historic Silk Road, Samarkand served as the intersection of several major Asian trade routes during the second century, and remains a melting pot of cultures, prominently featuring both Turkish and Russian architecture.
Gander International Airport
Time may be running out to see a Modernist showpiece in its original state. When it opened in 1959, before there was nonstop service across the ocean, this airport in the then 5,700-person town of Gander held outsize importance as a primary North American refueling station. Transatlantic air travel was a luxury in those days, and everyone who was anyone passed through these halls. Befitting this status, the lavish departures lounge (pictured) was outfitted with Mondrianesque terrazzo floors and furniture by designers like Charles and Ray Eames. Now that the airport serves far fewer travelers, it is slated to move to a smaller facility, prompting preservationists to push to find a new use for this remarkably unchanged terminal.
Chicago's Midway Airport
As the world’s busiest airport during the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s, Chicago’s Midway Airport held the “Crossroads of the World” designation before Gander was even open. While the title of “busiest airport” now belongs to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, Midway still services approximately 1.8 million passengers a month to both domestic and international destinations.
Both the country and its famous canal have earned the “crossroads” epithet over time by serving as both a key channel for maritime trade and a symbolic link between North and South America.
A hub for international travel, Anchorage, Alaska started calling itself the Air Crossroads of the World during the 1960s and ‘70s. The branding (paired with the city’s prime location) put the destination on the map as a key stopping point on both cargo and passenger flights.
East meets west in Istanbul, the only city to straddle both Europe and Asia. Sitting at the junction of the two cultures, Istanbul also serves as a bridge between the modern and ancient worlds, offering visitors historic sites coupled with contemporary travel amenities.
‘Crossroads of the World’
One way to earn the nickname is to give it to yourself. At least, that’s what the architects behind America’s first outdoor shopping mall thought. Located on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles with buildings inspired by Italian, French, New England, and Moorish aesthetics, the former retail space now functions as office space for a variety of creative professionals including music studio execs, books publishers, and entertainment publicists.
In 2011, the British Museum bestowed the moniker upon Afghanistan with an exhibit showcasing archeological treasures from the former Silk Road trade center.