A Ball in Time Again

times square

The New Year‘s Eve celebration in Times Square debuted in 1904 as a ceremony commemorating the official opening of the New York Times‘ new headquarters at One Times Square. Located at the triangular intersection of 7th Avenue, Broadway and 42nd Street in Manhattan, it was the second-tallest building in NYC in those days, towering over the small spot of land the newspaper named after itself.

An unprecedented celebration unfolded on that distant New Year’s Eve. Adolph Ochs (the then publisher of the paper) “spared no expense to ensure a party for the ages.” Fireworks, rattles and noisemakers from over 200,000 attendees were the culmination of an entire day of street festivals. 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 newborn year….” The commemoration was quickly turned into a traditional New Year’s Eve event.

The crowds at Trinity Church, then the setting for New Year’s Eve celebrations, instantly found their way uptown to a new and (down to the present day) more dynamic setting at Times Square; of course, it all became bigger and more high-tech over the years.

(By the way, this year’s ball looks suspiciously like last year’s ball…but the years are passing by so quickly that it all looks like one big, blurry Ball of Confusion; one ball–or strike or home run, for that matter–is just as good as any other ball.)