Some one million people squeeze into New York’s Times Square each New Year’s Eve to watch the ball drop, signifying the start of a new year. It’s a scene watched by millions more on live television, and it’s now in its 106th year.
When the New York Times moved to the square in 1904, it convinced the city to name the triangular intersection after the paper. To celebrate, a huge event was held in the new “Times Square” on New Year’s Eve that drew about 200,000 people and started a tradition.
The ball came three years later, lowered from a flagpole atop One Times Square. Over the years, it’s gone from being constructed of iron and wood to pure iron, to aluminum, and is now composed of 2,688 Waterford crystals. For 2009, the ball is twice the size as 2008, and has three times more LED fixtures. They even had to rebuild the flagpole to accommodate this thing. It’s now capable of putting on a fabulous light show all by itself, and will remain lit in Times Square all year long.
For many years, Guy Lombardo’s orchestra was synonymous with New Year’s Eve, and would play Auld Lang Syne from the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel while images of Times Square were broadcast on CBS. More recently, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve has been the broadcast standard, hosted for many years by the venerable Dick Clark, and now by the Dick Clark of a new generation, Ryan Seacrest.