First New Year's Eve Celebration in Times Square, New York, NY
The first New Year's Eve celebration in what is now known as Times Square was held on New Year's Eve 1904.
The New York Times had opened their new headquarters at One Times Square (at the time, the city's second tallest building) in Longacre Square and persuaded the city to rename the triangular "square" surrounding it for their newspaper (which the city later did on April 8, 1904). The newspaper's owner, Adolph Ochs, decided to celebrate the opening of the company's new headquarters with a midnight fireworks show on the roof of the building on December 31, 1903. Close to 200,000 people attended the event, displacing traditional celebrations that had normally been held at Trinity Church. However, Ochs wanted a bigger spectacle at the building to draw more attention to the newly-named Times Square. After four years of New Year's Eve fireworks celebrations, the newspaper's chief electrician Walter F. Palmer constructed an electrically lit time ball that would be lowered from the flagpole on the roof of One Times Square. It was constructed with iron and wood, lit with one hundred 25-watt bulbs, weighed 700 pounds (320 kg), and measured 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter. It was first lowered on New Year's Eve 1908 (December 31, 1907). It originally dropped one second after midnight. Though The New York Times would later move its headquarters to a larger building at 229 West 43rd Street, the New Year's Eve celebration at One Times Square remains to this day.
Perhaps the most famous New Year's Eve celebration in the world, attending the New Year's Eve Ball Drop in Times Square is a memorable way to spend New Year's Eve in New York City.
People have been celebrating New Year's Eve in Times Square since 1904, but the first Ball Drop didn't happen until 1907. Since 1907, the ball has been dropped from One Times Square every year, except in 1942 and 1943 due to wartime restrictions on lighting in New York City. Read about the history of the Ball Drop in Times Square.
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. Two innovations that would completely transform the Crossroads of the World debuted in 1904: 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 (a contemporary article in The New York Times credited Interborough Rapid Transit Company President August Belmont for suggesting the change to the Rapid Transit Commission). 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 bottom of its three massive sub-basements, built to handle the heavy weight demands ofThe Times‘ up-to-date printing equipment.