New Years Eve
Back in the 19th century, New Yorkers gathered downtown at Trinity Church to greet the new year. At midnight the church bells would “ring out the old, ring in the new.” But in 1904 the New Years Eve celebration would move uptown to the newly christened Times Square.
In 1904 the New York Times had moved their headquarters up to 42nd street where Broadway and 7th avenue meet. The area, known as Longacre Square, was renamed by the city for the paper. On December 31st of 1904 the Times held an all-day street festival to celebrate their new tower. It culminated at midnight with a fireworks display, attended by over 200,000 people. It was such a success that Times Square immediately became the “in” place in New York City to greet the New Year. Concerned about fire safety the city banned the use of fireworks in 1907. Looking for an alternative the Times borrowed another idea from downtown. Everyday at noon a metal ball would drop down a flagpole on the top of the western Union Building, the tallest building on lower Broadway. This was so ships in the harbor could calibrate their chronometers to the local time. The Times adopted this idea to signal the end of one year and the beginning of another.
New Years Eve 2020
Since 1907 the New Years Eve ball has dropped every year, except for 1942 and 1943 when the ceremony was suspended due to wartime “dimouts.”
There have been seven different versions of the ball over the years. The first one, in 1907, was 5 feet in diameter. Made of wood and iron and covered with 100 25-watt light bulbs. Today’s ball is 12 feet in diameter and has 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles illuminated by 32,256 LEDs.
In normal times hundreds of thousands of people gather in Times Square and wait for hours to witness, first hand, the famous ball drop. Because of Covid-19 restrictions the ball drop will not be open to the public this year. Instead we will come together virtually to celebrate new beginnings as we say good-bye to 2020.
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Here’s to a happy, healthy, and, successful 2021 for all!
See our Youtube story on Times Square
Check out our Times Square/Broadway tour.