What’s more fun than crossing the street? Crossing the street with thousands of your closest friends, of course! Throughout the world, there are certain notorious intersections that raise the simple act of crossing the street to the level of competitive sport. Crowded, noisy, and full of visual stimulation, these congested spots offer thoroughly urban experiences that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.
From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the constant hustle of Times Square in New York and several spots in between, here are four of the busiest intersections in the world.
Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo
If you Google “busiest intersection in the world,” you’ll find pages and pages of text dedicated to this notorious crossing — and it’s not just hype. Located outside of the Shibuya subway station in Tokyo, some reports state that 1 million pedestrians traverse this intersection... per day.
But perhaps the most fascinating thing is how the crossing unfolds. All of the traffic lights turn red at the same time in all directions, signaling to pedestrians that it’s go time. Pedestrians — as many as 2,500 per crossing cycle — jostle into the intersection from all directions in what has lovingly been dubbed “the scramble.”
Curious? Insiders say that one of the best viewing points is the second story window of the Shibuya Crossing Starbucks, which also happens to be one of the coffee giant’s busiest outlets in the world.
Times Square, New York City
If New York is the City that Never Sleeps, then Times Square is the endless jolt of espresso that keeps it wired. Originally known as Longacre Square, it was re-dubbed Times Square after "The New York Times" moved its headquarters to the bow-tie-shaped crossing, which is not actually a square at all.
Festooned with blaring advertisements and lighted signs from all angles, this is certainly a well-trafficked crossing. According to the Times Square automated counting system (18 cameras located on six different buildings, monitoring 35 unique locations in the area), there can be between 380,000 and 450,000 pedestrians in the heart of the square each day.
On New Year’s Eve, with the famous ball dropping ceremony, the traffic surges to a million or more.
Place Charles de Gaulle, Paris
This massive junction was originally named Place de l'Étoile, or “Star Plaza” or “Square of the Star.”
That name makes sense when you view the intersection on a map — a staggering 12 avenues that all converge to meet in a starburst formation. And at the center, its pinnacle is the famed Arc de Triomphe.
With 12 avenues meeting in one place and automobiles, scooters, and trucks whizzing by, you’d be a fool to try to dash across this intersection. Happily, the city has made it easy, offering underground pedestrian access to the square.
Piccadilly Circus, London
Sorry, but you won’t find elephants or a trapeze here. In the context of this interchange, “circus” refers to the circular shape of the intersection rather than the presence of a big top.
Nevertheless, London’s Piccadilly Circus is quite a spectacle to behold. In fact, this intersection, which sees as many as 100 million tourists per year, is so busy that the term “Piccadilly Circus” is used in the vernacular to refer to any number of convoluted or crowded settings.
Located in close proximity to the theater district, several major shopping streets, and the London Underground, there’s plenty to see and do in this bustling area. If you’re sensitive to bright lights, bring shades: The brightly lighted signs are turned off only for special occasions or for maintenance work.
The Most Congested Urban Intersections
Did you look both ways? Crossing the street is far from an average experience at these internationally infamous crossings. Once you’ve visited these busy intersections, you may never look at a walk sign the same way!