The New Year’s Eve ball drop at Times Square is such a highly anticipated and globally recognized event. An event that takes lots of months to put together. As midnight approaches every 31st of December thousands of people gather in and around Times Square to watch the New Year’s Eve ball descend.

The ball positioned on top of One Times Square begins to descend at the stroke of midnight sliding down a pole and signaling the arrival of a new year. Did you know? This has been an age-old ritual that has silently witnessed the passage of time, gracefully adapting through various transitions. Come along as we browse through its rich history.

The Origin Of The New Year’s Eve Ball

The iconic New Year ball drop celebration owes its existence to the collaborative efforts of two remarkable individuals Artkraft Strauss and Adolph Ochs. Together their collaboration birthed a tradition that would transcend time marking the beginning of a timeless spectacle that graces the heart of New York City every New Year’s Eve.

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Adolph Ochs initiated The New Year’s Eve Ball drop in 1904 as a savvy marketing strategy to celebrate the official opening of the newspaper’s brand-new headquarters located in Times Square. This particular idea not only celebrated the new opening but also aimed to establish The New York Times as a key player in the city’s media industry.

Adolph Ochs Wanted A Bigger Show

After organizing a firework display that welcomed the world into 1905, attracting about 200,000 people who had abandoned their traditional celebrations which were normally held at Trinity Church. The idea was to create a memorable event that would garner the attention of thousands, and that was exactly what Adolph did. But he wanted more. He soon got to work.

Source: Wikimedia

After several years of organizing a fireworks show, Adolph wanted something bigger that would draw more attention to Times Square. While seeking for an event that would transcend the works of the fireworks it laid the foundation for the iconic idea of the New Year Eves Ball Drop.

The First Ball Was Created

Adolph wasn’t sure how his plan would manifest but he knew it would happen. Just when he was getting tired of looking for new ideas, the newspaper’s chief electrician Walter F. Palmer suggested the idea of using a time ball. This came after he saw one being used on the Western Union Telegraph Building just a few blocks from Trinity Church.

Source: Wikimedia / Hunter Kahn

In 1907, Adolph took the bold step and hired sign-making designer Artkraft Strauss to construct his dream ball. The first ball was made of wood and iron fully dressed and illuminated by a 125 watts incandescent bulb. This ball was 5 feet in diameter and it weighed about 700 pounds.

How The Iconic Ball Got On Top Of The Building

Ever wonder how Adolph got the ball to drop if there was limited technology during this period? This iconic ball was raised by a group of six men using a rope and placing it on the 70-foot flagpole of the building. And once it was 10 seconds to the new year the ball would begin to drop.


Once it reaches the rooftop the ball completes a carefully orchestrated circuit, as the ball triggers the circuit, it illuminates the 5-foot tall signs on the side of the building. This initiates a beautiful firework show displaying a show of colors across New York City.

Skyline. The first ball drop happened on December 31st, 1907 welcoming everyone into 1908.

The First Ball Needed An Upgrade-The Second Ball

The first ball was a success, it wouldn’t make any sense to stop there, they needed to do more to maintain the momentum, so Adolph and Strauss opted for an upgrade. The original ball was replaced by a new design just after the 1919-1920 ball drop event. Although it looked like the first ball, some changes were made.

Source: Wikimedia / Anthony Quintano

This new ball was made solely of iron, which reduced the ball’s weight from 700 pounds to about 400 pounds. The ball drop continued to exist but went on a hiatus for the New Year’s Eve of 1942-1943 and 1943-1944 this was due to lightning restrictions issued during World War II. Instead, the people observed a minute of silence.

1955-1998 Was The Era Of The Third Ball

The second ball had served its purpose so it was time for a new design. This one was different; it was made of aluminum. It was just 6 feet in diameter and Instead of 400 pounds, it weighed only 150 pounds. The ball remained the same until the 1980s when it got modified to make it look like an apple.

Source: Wikimedia / Anthony Quintano

The apple-like ball had red bulbs and a green stem and even got used for the I Love New York campaign from 1980-1981. Seven years later the traditional white bulb returned to the hall for the 1988-1989 event. And in 1995 the ball got an upgrade; aluminum skin, rhinestones, strobes, and computer control.

The New Millennium Came With A New Design

The third ball was used for the last time between 1998-1999. The new millennium needed a completely new design. The new ball was covered in a total of 600 halogen bulbs, 504 triangle-shaped Christal panels, 96 strobe lights, and a spinning pyramid-shaped mirror. This was like something we’d never seen before

Source: Wikimedia / Clare Cridland

At this point, the team and company that had brought the ball to Times Square were no longer needed. This meant that sadly Artkraft Strauss and his team had to take a step back. The Waterford Crystal and Phillips Lightning are now in charge of all designs concerning the ball.

A New Design For The 100th Anniversary Of The Times Square Ball Drop Tradition

To celebrate the anniversary of the first-ever ball drop, a fifth design was unveiled for the 2007-2008 event. This time around the ball weighed 1,212 pounds and was surrounded by 9576 LED lamps which were capable of dramatically increasing the brightness and the colors of the ball.

Source: David Handschuh

A bigger version of the fifth ball was introduced in 2009 which contained 2,688 crystal triangles and was lit by 32,256 LED lamps. This new ball was displayed permanently atop One Time Square and now serves as a year-round attraction for public view from January through December.

A Night To Celebrate

Looking back, it’s so obvious that New Year’s Eve in Times Square has gone beyond its local roots and has become a globally recognized tradition. Every year crowds in their numbers gather around the location without minding the chill of New York’s winter as they patiently await the much anticipated Ball Drop event.

Source: Reddit

With the aid of advanced technology, the ball drop event has been able to expand its reach, capturing lots of worldwide audiences which have been estimated to be around a billion every year.