The History of the New York City Ball Drop

An NYC New Year’s Eve, a wonderful night and setting to celebrate, reminisce and set goals for a brand new year to come. Every New Year’s celebration is special in its own way; you look forward to spending the night with your family and watching the ball drop while midnight and the New Year approaches. Once the ball drops everyone celebrates the arrival of a New Year with smiles everywhere and plenty of hugs and kisses going around.

We all celebrate the arrival of the New Year and love the anticipation of watching the ball drop, but do we really know the ball drop history. We always watch and celebrate the moments leading up to the ball drop, but what exactly does this event represent and how did we end up with the NYC New Year’s Eve ball drop? The answers to all of your questions are right here so keep on reading to find out more about the ball drop history!

Thinking of heading to Times Square to celebrate New Year’s Eve? Find out what you need to know about the celebration here!

NYC New Year’s Eve – Ball Drop History

The original NYC New Year’s Eve ball drop celebration was established when Adolph Ochs opened up his new “The New York Times” headquarters in what was once known as Longacre Square, our modern-day Times Square. For four years straight from 1903 until 1907, Ochs had a midnight fireworks show go on until he decided he wanted something bigger and better. To create his bigger and better celebration, Ochs hired an electrician to build a lighted ball that was to be dropped down a flagpole on the roof of the building to celebrate the arrival of the New Year as well as the newly renamed Times Square. The actual ball itself, however, was not as big as you would think. For some more ball drop history, the ball itself is recorded to have only been 5 ft. in diameter, which is much smaller when compared to this year’s version!

Right now, the ball is still located on the roof of One Times Square; the ball descends a total of 141 feet in 60 seconds down a specially designed flagpole, at 11:59:00 p.m. until midnight where it reaches its end and signals the start of the new year. Now that you know about today’s celebration, let’s start with the actual ball drop history.

The ball drop in New York City first came about on December 31, 1907, to bring in 1908. This iconic ball drop has continued on today since the first year it was done leaving it to become an NYC New Year’s Eve tradition for every year. Even though the ball has continued to come down every year, here’s another ball drop history fun fact. The ball did not drop for two consecutive years which were the years 1942 and 1943 to observe wartime blackouts, other than those two years, the ball has continued to drop every single year!

The Ball Drop Today

The actual ball that we see today is not the same ball that was used in the past; it has seen some modern mechanical and technological upgrades over the years. The first original ball was made out of wood and iron, which contained 100 incandescent light bulbs to light it up. As technology improved, the ball did too. Our current ball that we see every year now features a computerized LED lighting system with its outer surface being covered in triangle-shaped crystal panels.

You can find today’s ball that has been used since 2009 displayed in Times Square above One Times Square where it is kept throughout the year until it rises again for the New Year. While you can view the current ball from the ground below, you can also get an up-close view of the past ball as well. Here’s another ball drop history fun fact, the smaller version of the current ball that was used in 2008 and before is on display for you to see at Times Square’s visitor center!

The Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, a company led by Jeff Strauss, hold the actual NYC New Year’s Eve ball drop event. Approximately at least 2 million spectators visit this event yearly, while it is nationally televised throughout the country as part of New Year’s Eve specials broadcasted by a number of networks and cable channels. The event is free for anyone who would like to witness the ball drop, but you must show up extremely early, as spectators will crowd the streets during the early morning hours to get a great view of the ball. With the ball drop happening each year, try to make it to at least one ball drop since now you know some fun historical facts about this amazing event!