01
Jan
10

Have a ball!

Everyone knows that Times Square in New York City becomes a complete zoo on New Years Eve. Everyone wants to watch the ball drop. Many people watch this spectacular on TV, and even live on the web, a sure-fire sign of the times.

But how many of us know the history of this unwavering but ever evolving tradition?

In honor of our first ever Photo Friday, I’m going to take you through the history of this time honored tradition, ringing in the New Year in Times Square.

In 1904, the first Times Square New Years Eve festival was celebrate, although, without the infamous ball. The celebration was thrown to commemorate the opening of the new New Your Times’ building, the 2nd tallest building in Manhattan. In fact, this was the first year Times Square was known as such.

The first year the ball was dropped was 1907. The city had banned the fireworks display that had rung in the previous 2 years. The owner of the New York Times then arranged for the first ball to be designed by Jacob Starr. The ball was constructed of wood and iron and 100 25-watt light bulbs. It weighed 700 lbs and was 5-feet in diameter. The ball was lowered from the flagpole of the Times Building exactly at midnight.

The original ball was dropped every year until 1920, when it was redesigned. The new design allowed the ball to be composed entirely of wrought iron. The re-designed ball weighed in at 400 lbs. Once again, this ball was used every year, except for 1942 and 1943 when NYC had “dimouts” due to the war. For these 2 years, midnight was rung in by a minute of silence, and then bell chiming.

Once again, a new design was created in 1955. Made from aluminum, it dropped the weight of the ball in half, to only 200 lbs.

To coincide with the “I Love New York” campaign, the infamous Ball was redesigned once again. This time, the lights were replaced with red lights, and a green stem was added, transforming the beloved ball into an Apple. This ball was used from 1981 until 1988, when it was transformed back to it’s previous design.

(Please note that I searched for a good hour, and could NOT find a picture of that ball. Wtf historians! Way to not do your job!)

In 1995, the aluminum ball got a technology makeover. Rhinestones, computer controls, and strobes were added to the ball. This ball was dropped for the last time in 1998.

To commemorate the impending Millennium, Waterford Crystal redesigned the ball once again. It got one hell of an upgrade. 6-ft in diameter, 1,070 lbs, and covered in 504 triangles of Waterford crystal up to almost 6 inches in length per side. Up until 2007, this is the ball they used.

Up until last night, Waterford Crystal used a ball that was redesigned to include designs with a “Hope for” inspiration. 72 of the crystal triangles included the design “Hope for Peace”. The other triangles boasted designs which promoted Hope for Courage, Fellowship, Wisdom, Unity, Healing, and Abundance, as well as Star for Hope.

Marking the end of the first millennial decade, the ball got another huge transformation. Adorning a new “Let There Be Courage” crystal, featuring a unique Celtic Knot design, the new ball is 12-feet in diameter, and weighing in at 11,875 lbs, making it the largest ball yet. 2,668 crystals cover the mammoth ball and it is illuminated by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDS.

Another sign of the times is proven by the technology installed in the ball. This creation is capable of illuminating with over 16 million different colors and an endless possibility of patterns. Pete Cheyney from Waterford Crystal is quoted saying “The new 2009 Times Square New Year’s Ball represents the perfect blend of time-honored craftsmanship and state of the art technology…” and I would have to agree.

For the first time in history, organizers of the New Years Eve event announced that this ball will now be on display year-round.

And that, my friends, is the history of something we experience every single year, and will, for years and years to come.

I’ll shut up now.

(Information source: Times Square Alliance — Images link to the webpages where I grabbed them from)

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