The tradition to celebrate a new year at Time Square in New York is dated as early as 1904. Three years later in 1907 the very first New Year’s Eve Ball Drop happened. The Ball was dropped from the top of the highest building in the Time Square at the time. During these 100+ years of ball drops, there has been seven different ball versions.
Ever since 1907 there has been only two years when the ball drop was skipped- 1942 and 1943. The reason for shipping the ball drop was the wartime light “dimout” in New York City- bright lights were not allowed after a certain time. Despite the war times and the lack of the ball drop people still gathered in Time Square to ring in a new year. To honor war time, people went into a new year with a minute of silence followed by a commemorative bell ringing.
About The Balls
The first ball ever made for the New York Cities’ ball drop weighed around 700 pounds, was 5 feet wide in diameter and was made from wood and iron. To ensure the Ball was bright enough the engineers attached a hundred 25-watt light bulbs.
The first ball was replaced in 1920 with a 400 pound ball made out of iron. The third ball was installed in 1955 and was made out of alumni that allowed the ball to be hundreds of pounds lighter- only 150. The third ball remained unchanged until the 1980s. First, second and third ball was relatively similar.
In 1981 New York City decided to add red light bulbs and a green stem that would symbolize the city symbol- an apple. After 7 years, in 1989, the ball returned to traditional white light bulbs taking down the green stem and red lights. The next change to the aluminum ball happened in 1995 when rhinestones, strobes and computer controls were added.
In 2000 the New Year’s Eve ball was fully redesigned and the crystal ball was created. The crystal ball had the latest lighting technologies combined with the most traditional materials. The new LED crystal ball was built in 2007 for the 100th anniversary of the ball drop. The 2007 ball was the brightest there has ever been thanks to the all new LED lighting technology.
Now, the latest New Year’s ball weighs around six tons and is twelve feet in diameter. The ball has 2,688 crystal triangles that are illuminated by 32,256 LED light bulbs. The ball is considered to be a permanent tourist attraction because the New Year’s Eve Ball is now sparkling above Times Square all year long.
The Origin Of The Ball Drop
The ball drop tradition didn’t start with the New Year’s Eve celebration. The origin of the very first ball drop is dated around 1833 in England’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich. The ball was installed at the top of the observatory and was dropped every day at one o’clock. The ball drop was a navigation tool for surrounding ships. It allowed ship captains to set their chronometers (important navigation tool) and make sure it matched with other captains. After the successful navigation system in Greenwich many cities surrounded by ports followed the lead around the globe. Today, you can find around 150 public ball drops that are still working, including one in the United States at the Naval Observatory in Washington, DC. Thanks to the ship captains, people decided to use a ball drop as a symbol of a new year and becoming a wildly known symbol of time.