Times Square New Year’s ball – an American icon

In 1904, German Jewish immigrant and New York Times owner Alfred Ochs selected a new home for the newspaper.

The New York Times Tower was situated on a small triangle of land called Longacre Square, at the intersection of 7th Avenue, Broadway and 42nd Street. Ochs successfully lobbied the city to rename the area Times Square.

Back then, New Year’s celebrations were held in Lower Manhattan’s Trinity Church. Ochs had other ideas.

To ring in the 1905 new year and in celebration of the opening of the New York Times Tower, he planned an all-day festival in the newly named Times Square. The festival ended at the stroke of midnight with a spectacular fireworks display.

It was said that the 200,000 attendees’ cheers and noisemakers could be heard as far away as Croton-on-the-Hudson, a community 30 miles north along the Hudson River.

Two years later, the city banned the fireworks display. A determined Ochs arranged to have a 700-pound ball constructed of wood and iron, completed with 100 25-watt light bulbs.

On New Years Eve, 1907, the ball was lowered from the tower’s flag pole at midnight to ring in 1908.

In the past 104 years, there have only been six versions of the ball since the original was introduced:

  • In 1920, a four-hundred pound iron ball replaced the original iron and wood ball
  • In 1955, a 150-pound aluminum ball with 180 light bulbs replaced the iron ball.
  • In 1995, the aluminum ball was upgraded with rhinestones and computer controls.
  • In 1999, the crystal New Year’s Eve Ball was created to welcome the new millennium.
  • In 2007, modern LED technology replaced the light bulbs of the past for the 100th anniversary of the New Year’s Eve ball.
  • In 2008, the permanent Big Ball was unveiled atop One Times Square, where it sparkles above Times Square.

The 2012 ball is 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11,875 pounds. It is covered with a total of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles bolted to 672 LED modules, which are attached to the aluminum frame of the ball.

The ball is illuminated by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs. Each LED module contains 48 LED’s — 12 red, 12 blue, 12 green, and 12 white for a total of 8,064 of each color.

The dropping of the Times Square New Years ball is rich in tradition and history. It is an American icon to be proud of and one I enjoy watching.

I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year!

For more information visit the Times Square Ball website.

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