If you’ve ever watched the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square on television, you’re probably familiar with the iconic ball drop that takes place at midnight. But did you know that the tradition dates back more than 100 years and has undergone several transformations over the years?
The first New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square took place on December 31, 1907. At the time, the event was put on by the New York Times to celebrate the opening of the newspaper’s new headquarters in the Times Square area. A 700-pound iron and wood ball was dropped from the top of the Times Tower to signal the start of the new year.
Over the years, the ball drop has become an increasingly elaborate and spectacular event. The ball itself has undergone several redesigns, evolving from the original iron and wood version to a 400-pound aluminum ball in 1920 and a 150-pound crystal ball in 1955. In the 1980s, the ball received a major upgrade with the addition of computerized LED lights, allowing it to display a wide range of colors and patterns.
Today, the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball is a 12-foot diameter sphere weighing a whopping 11,875 pounds. It is covered in over 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles and is illuminated by 32,256 LEDs. The ball is raised to the top of a pole on the roof of One Times Square (the former site of the Times Tower) at 6:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, and the countdown to midnight begins at 11:59 p.m. When the clock strikes midnight, the ball begins its descent down the pole, taking 60 seconds to reach the bottom.
In addition to the ball drop, the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration also features live music performances, fireworks displays, and the traditional New Year’s Eve countdown led by the mayor of New York City. The event is televised nationally and watched by millions of people around the world.
So the next time you tune in to the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration, take a moment to appreciate the rich history and evolution of the iconic ball drop. It’s a tradition that has brought joy and celebration to people all over the world for more than 100 years.