The iconic New Year’s Eve ball drop in New York City’s Times Square first occurred on Dec. 31, 1907 — 111 years ago.
The first New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, however, started in 1904 at the then-new headquarters of The New York Times in Times Tower, according to Times Square’s website. It was just without dropping the ball.
More than 200,000 people showed up to the first kind of party that started with a street festival during the day, fireworks at night and noisemakers heard at midnight. The New Year’s Eve ball was born for the 1907-1908 celebration, however, after the city banned showing fireworks.
Immigrant metalworker Jacob Starr designed the first Times Square ball, which weighed 700 pounds, had a five-foot diameter and was adorned with 100 25-watt light bulbs.
Times Square’s ball has gone through seven designs over the years.
Times Tower replaced lower Manhattan’s Trinity Church as the place to celebrate the holiday. The tower remained a hub for the city’s celebration even when The Times moved offices.
1942 and 1943 were the only years where the ball was not dropped due to the city dimming out the lights. People still greeted the new year in Times Square by holding a minute of silence. Chimes would also ring from sound trucks.
Dim-outs were done to reduce the attention attracted to the city that could lead to possible air raids, according to the Gothamist.
The Times Square ball drop is not the first to use the event to signify time passage.
England’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich first used a “time-ball” in 1833. Captains knew to set their chronometers, or navigational instruments that work like clocks, when the ball dropped in the afternoon.
The 2019 New Year’s Eve ball weighs 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is able to display more than 16 million vibrant colors.
The ball was lowered by hand for the first 87 years, according to ABC 7. The 2019 ball will be dropped based on an automatic timer in Colorado.
The 2019 New Year’s Eve celebration in New York City will be the first time where police officers will hover a drone for safety purposes, The Associated Press reported.
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