In 1904 the New York Times moved to its brand new headquarters on 42nd Street in Manhattan. A few months later, in order to raise the newspaper’s profile, owner Adolph Ochs convinced the city to open a new subway station near the building, and the entire area was renamed “Times Square.” Ochs organized the Square’s first New Year’s Eve celebration later that year, and soon the annual party would become one the biggest in the city.
For 1907, Ochs decided that he wanted to step it up a notch by adding a light spectacle to his New Year’s Eve event. He had Times electrician Walter F. Palmer construct a large lighted ball which, to the delight of the crowd, was lowered from a flag pole atop the Times Building one second after midnight.
The New York Times has long since moved their headquarters, but for over 100 year the New Year’s Eve ball drop has continued to be a Times Square tradition. It’s a party that even Adolph Ochs would be proud of.
Take a glance at our special New Year’s Eve edition of By The Numbers and learn some of the facts and figures associated with our favorite New Year’s tradition.
1907: First year that a lighted ball was dropped over Times Square to ring in the New Year!
2: Total number of years since 1907 that the Times Square Ball was not dropped (both during WWII, when there were lighting restrictions).
700: Number of pounds of Mr. Ochs original Times Square Ball; it was also 5 feet in diameter and constructed of iron and wood.
100: Number of 25-watt bulbs on that original Ball.
400: Number of pounds of the wrought-iron ball that replaced the original in 1920.
200: Number of pounds of the next Times Square Ball (made of aluminum) which reigned from 1955 until 2000.
8: Number of years in the 1980’s in which the Times Square Ball was modified to look like a “Big Apple,” in honor of its hometown.
500+: Number of Waterford Crystal triangles that made up the next Times Square Ball, specially made to help ring in the year 2000. This one weighed 1,070 pounds, measured 6 feet in diameter and contained 700 different kinds of light bulbs in many different colors.
11,875: Number of pounds of the current New Year’s Eve Ball, a 12 foot geodesic sphere.
2,688: Number of Waterford Crystal triangles that make up the current ball.
32,256: Number of energy efficient lights on the current ball—the energy usage is equivalent to that of 2 traditional home ovens!
Billions: Number of possible light patterns the current ball can produce.
33.7: Average degrees Fahrenheit in NYC at 12 a.m. on January 1.
365 (or 366 in Leap Years like 2012): Days out of the year that the Times Square Ball is on display—that’s right, it’s not just for New Year’s anymore!
1 Million: Estimated number of people who head to Times Square every New Year’s Eve to watch the ball drop. What a way to practice the 1st Amendment right to assemble! (See, and you guys didn’t think I would work the Constitution into this one!)
Jenna Winterle is the Public Programs Coordinator at the National Constitution Center.