Ring in the New Year at the wildest party of
the year! Be part of the dazzling lights and bustling energy of Times
Square. Watch the descent of the famous New Year's Eve Ball, a tradition
which has become the universal symbol of welcoming the New Year. For 100
years, New York City's Times Square has been the center of the universe
on New Year's Eve.
The Times Square New Year's Eve
celebration features star-studded musical performances, balloons,
pom-poms, confetti, a colorful pyrotechnic display and about a million
of your closest friends.
History of New
Year's Eve in Times Square (from the Times Square Alliance)
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 and thronged
streets of Times Square. Several innovations that would soon completely
transform the Crossroads of the World debuted in 1904: the invention of
the neon light, 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 Alfred
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, marooned 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 basement up.
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 miles away.
The New York Times'
description of the occasion paints a rapturous picture: "From base to
dome the giant structure was alight - a torch to usher in the
The night was such a
rousing success that Times Square instantly replaced Lower Manhattan's
Trinity Church as New York City's favorite place to ring in the new
year. Before long, this party of parties would capture the imagination
of the nation, and the world.
Two years later, the
city banned the fireworks display - but Ochs was undaunted. He arranged
to have a large, illuminated seven-hundred-pound iron and wood ball
lowered from the tower flagpole precisely at midnight to signal the end
of 1907 and the beginning of 1908.
In 1914, The New
York Times outgrew Times Tower and relocated to 229 West 43rd
Street. By then, New Year's Eve in Times Square was already a permanent
part of our cultural fabric.
In 1942 and 1943, the
glowing Ball was temporarily retired due to the wartime "dimout" of
lights in New York City. The revelers who still gathered in Times Square
in those years greeted the New Year with a moment of silence followed by
chimes ringing out from Times Tower.
New York Times retained ownership of the Tower until 1961, when
it was sold to developer Douglas Leigh, who was also the man behind many
of the spectacular signs in Times Square, including the famous Camel
billboard with its smoking ring. Mr. Leigh stripped the building down to
its steel frame, then re-clad it in white marble and windows.
Today, New Year's Eve
in Times Square is a bona fide international phenomenon. Each year,
hundreds of thousands of people still gather around the Tower, now known
as One Times Square, and wait for hours in the cold of a New York winter
for the famous Ball-lowering ceremony. Thanks to satellite technology, a
worldwide audience estimated at over one billion people watches the
ceremony each year. The lowering of the Ball has become the world's
symbolic welcome to the New Year.