The first New Year’s Eve ball to drop in Times Square in 1907
In 1904, the New York Times moved from downtown near City Hall to the triangular piece of land at the intersection of 7th Avenue, Broadway, and 42nd Street. The Times Tower was the second-tallest building in the city at the time, but people thought they were crazy for moving so far uptown. However, this was the same year that the city’s first subway line opened, passing through what was then called Longacre Square. The Times had a printing press in the basement and would load the daily papers right onto the train, actually getting the news out faster than other papers.
Up until then, New Year’s Eve was celebrated at Trinity Church near Wall Street, but the Times wanted to take over the party in honor of their new building. Since the church elders hated people getting drunk on their property, they gladly obliged. So to ring in 1905, the company hosted an all-day bash of 200,000 people that culminated in a midnight fireworks display, and thus the first New Year’s Eve in Times Square was born. But it wasn’t until a few years later that the famous ball drop became tradition.
Video via TheLazyCowOnUTube
Fireworks at the turn of the century weren’t as sophisticated as those we have today; they rained down burning ash on the people below, causing the city to ban them by 1907. To take their place, the Times’ owner Alfred Ochs looked to the maritime tradition of lowering a time ball at noon and combined it with the new invention of electricity. As 1908 was ushered in, a 700-pound iron and wood ball was lowered from the Times Tower’s flagpole. It had 100 25-watt light bulbs on it and functioned as “a lighthouse in the middle of Manhattan.” For more fun facts about New Year’s Eve in Times Square since 1908, be sure to watch the video above.
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Neighborhoods : Times Square