Fun Fact January 2, 2020
2 January 2020
Revelers began celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square as early as 1904.
New York in 1904 was a city on the verge of tremendous changes – and, not surprisingly, many of those changes had their genesis in the bustling energy of Times Square. Two innovations that would completely transform the Crossroads of the World debuted in 1904: the opening of the city’s first subway line, and the first-ever celebration of New Year’s Eve in Times Square. This inaugural bash commemorated the official opening of the new headquarters of The New York Times. The newspaper’s owner, German Jewish immigrant Adolph Ochs, had successfully lobbied the city to rename Longacre Square, the district surrounding his paper’s new home, in honor of the famous publication. The impressive Times Tower, on a tiny triangle of land at the intersection of 7th Avenue, Broadway and 42nd Street, was at the time Manhattan’s second-tallest building—the tallest if measured from the bottom of its four massive sub-basements, built to handle the heavyweight demands of The Times’ up-to-date printing equipment.
The building was the focus of an unprecedented New Year’s Eve celebration. Ochs spared no expense to ensure a party for the ages. An all-day street festival culminated in a fireworks display set off from the base of the tower, and at midnight the joyful sound of cheering, rattles and noisemakers from the over 200,000 attendees could be heard, it was said, from as far away as thirty miles north along the Hudson River. The New York Times’ description of the occasion paints a colorful picture: “From base to dome the giant structure was alight – a torch to usher in the newborn year…” It wasn’t until 1907 that the New Year’s Eve Ball made its maiden descent from the flagpole atop One Times Square. Seven versions of the Ball have been designed to signal the New Year. This Big Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is now a year-round attraction sparkling above Times Square in full public view January through December. The permanent Big Ball weighs in at nearly six tons and is twelve feet in diameter. There are 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that are illuminated by 32,256 Philips Luxeon LEDs.
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