Technicians eye the new improved New Years ball. This version, which had halogen lamps for higher visibility, replaced a six-foot ball that had ordinary light bulbs. The lowering of the ball, which takes one minute, is down a 77-foot flagpole on top of One Times Square.Photo by Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times Photo Archives
|* 1904 – Revelers began celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square as early as 1904.* 1907 – The New Year’s Eve Ball first descended from a flagpole atop One Times Square, constructed with iron and wood materials with 100 25-watt bulbs weighing 700 pounds (318 kg) and measuring 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter. * 1920 – The Ball was replaced with an iron material Ball and weighing less than the original, only 400 pounds (181 kg).* 1942 -1943 – The Ball has been lowered every year since 1907, with the exceptions of 1942 and 1943, when its use was suspended due to the wartime “dimout” of lights in New York City. The crowds who still gathered in Times Square in those years greeted the New Year with a moment of silence followed by chimes ringing out from One Times Square.
* 1955 – The Ball was replaced with an aluminum ball weighing a mere 150 pounds.
* 1981 – 1988 – Due to I Love New York campaign, red light bulbs and the addition of a green stem converted the Ball into an apple for the “I Love New York” marketing campaign from 1981 until 1988.
* 1989 – After seven years, the traditional Ball with white light bulbs and without the green stem returned to brightly light the sky above Times Square.
* 1995 – The Ball was upgraded with aluminum skin, rhinestones, strobes, and computer controls.
* 1998 – The aluminium Ball gets replaced.
* 2000 – 2006 – The Ball gets an overhaul for the new millennium celebrations with a design from Waterford Crystal and new technology. It weighs 1070 pounds (485 kg), measures six 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 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.
About “time balls”
|The actual notion of a ball “dropping” to signal the passage of time dates back long before New Year’s Eve was ever celebrated in Times Square. The first “time-ball” was installed atop England’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. This ball would drop at one o’clock every afternoon, allowing the captains of nearby ships to precisely set their chronometers (a vital navigational instrument).Around 150 public time-balls are believed to have been installed around the world after the success at Greenwich, though few survive and still work. The tradition is carried on today in places like the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, where a time-ball descends from a flagpole at noon each day – and of course, once a year in Times Square, where it marks the stroke of midnight not for a few ships’ captains, but for over one billion people watching worldwide.|
Happy New Year – 2008