Thursday, December 30, 2010

History of the New Year's Eve Time Square Ball.

It's that time of year again where all different countries, cultures, religions and political beliefs celebrate the New Year. Bring it on 2011...!!!
While people party around the world, one of the most famous celebrations in the United States is the famous 'Ball Drop' in Times Square New York City. Thousands of people gather  shoulder to shoulder as they shout out the count down from ten to zero, while millions of others watch on their TV's ready to kiss the person they're with.... we just have to take a step back and remember that this custom has been going on since 1907 and the design of the descending ball has evolved through history as well.
People celebrated New Year’s Eve in Times Square as early as 1904, but it took until 1907 for the tradition of the New Year’s Eve Ball to begin. In 1907, the first New Year’s Eve Ball which measured five feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds descended from the flagpole on top of One Times Square. Jacob Starr, a young immigrant metalworker, built the ball from iron and wood and lit it with one hundred 25 –watt bulbs. For most of the Twentieth Century, the company that Jacob founded, Artkraft Strauss, lowered the ball every year.
The New Year’s Ball has descended every year since 1907 except for 1942 and 1943, when officials cancelled the ceremony because of the wartime dimming of New York City lights. Despite the absence of a ball, crowds still congregated in Times Square and welcomed the New Year with a minute of silence. After that chimes rang from sound trucks parked at the base of the tower, a continuation of earlier Trinity Church celebrations where crowds gathered to "ring out the old, ring in the new."

  • 1904 – The New York Times opens its new headquarters on Longacre Square (the city's second tallest building), and persuades the city to rename the triangular "square" for the newspaper. Owner Adolph Ochs initiates a massive celebration in the square for New Year's, which is so popular (200,000 came) it permanently displaces the celebration from Trinity Church. There is no ball, but there are fireworks.[3]
  • 1907 – Walter F. Palmer, chief electrician for The Times, creates the first New Year’s Eve Ball in response to the behest of publisher Adolph Ochs to create some kind of spectacular midnight show that would draw attention to the Square. The New Year’s Eve Ball first descended from a flagpole at One Times Square, constructed with iron and wood materials with 100 25-watt bulbs weighing 700 pounds (320 kg) and measuring 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter. At first, it dropped 1 second after midnight.
  • 1914 – The Times relocates to 229 W. 43rd St., but the celebration continues.[3]
  • 1920 – The Ball was replaced with an iron material Ball and weighing less than the original, only 400 pounds (180 kg).
  • 1942 – 1943 – During World War II, the descending of the Ball was stopped due to wartime lighting restrictions in case of enemy attack. Celebrants observed a moment of silence at midnight, followed by chimes.[3]
  • 1955-1980 – The Ball gets replaced with a lighter version made from aluminum weighing 150 pounds (68 kg).
  • 1981-1988 – Due to the I Love New York campaign, there are red light bulbs and green stem in a design of an apple.
  • 1989-1994 – The traditional white bulbs again get put on the Ball, except for 1991 and 1992, as a symbol to salute the troops in Operation Desert Shield, the ball is covered with red, white and blue light bulbs.
  • 1995-1998– The Ball gets computerized, aluminum coated, rhinestone, and has a strobe light system.
  • 1999 – The aluminum Ball gets replaced.[1]
  • 2000-2007 – The Ball gets an overhaul for the new millennium celebrations with a design from Waterford Crystal and new technology. It weighed 1,070 pounds (490 kg) measured 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter and installed with 504 crystal triangles, illuminated externally with 168 halogen light bulbs and internally with 432 light bulbs of clear, red, blue, green and yellow colors. Each year there is a theme[1] in the Waterford crystal concept with a particular chunk of designed crystals being called something, and in previous years there have been for example “Hope for Fellowship,” “Hope for Wisdom,” “Hope for Unity,” “Hope for Courage,” “Hope for Healing,” “Hope for Abundance,” etc. There are strobe lights and mirrors to create bursts of excitement and special effects for the audience.
  • 2008 – For New Year's Eve 2008, the ball gets a makeover in honor of its 100th Anniversary. The ball is still a Waterford Crystal ball as in 2000-2007 (described above), but brand new state of the art LED lighting provided by Philips is featured instead of the less efficient halogen bulbs. The new LED fixtures produce over 16.7 million colors and can be programmed to create special effects. Waterford Crystal has redesigned the crystal to feature a new "Let There Be Light" crystal design. The ball features 9,567 energy-efficient bulbs that consume the same amount of electricity as only ten toasters.[2] The New Year's Eve 2008 ball has been redesigned by a New York City lighting design firm called Focus Lighting. The ball's weight is 1,212 pounds (550 kg), and now is on a permament display at the Times Square Visitors Center.
  • 2009-present – The 2008 design is maintained, but its diameter is doubled, and it is 20% more energy efficient than the previous one. The new ball, a three-frequency icosahedral geodesic sphere, incorporates 3500 lighting cues designed by Focus Lighting, Inc.[4] The new ball weighs 11,875 pounds (5,386 kg) and is now 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter. The flag pole atop of One Times Square that the ball is hoisted atop was rebuilt and enlarged to accommodate the ball. When raised it is now placed 475 feet (145 m) above Times Square. Starting on January 6, 2009, the ball became a permanent fixture mid-way atop the pole in Times Square, resting above the current year lighted up. 

Behold:  the new ball to bring in 2011


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Very nice explanation.



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