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On December 31, 1907, the first New Year’s Eve “ball drop” in Times Square took place in New York City

January 31

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 31 of January, repeating indefinitely

On December 31, 1907, the first New Year’s Eve “ball drop” in Times Square took place in New York City. The first ball was tiny, but heavy – only 5 feet in diameter, but 700 pounds, it was carefully lowered down a flagpole by pulley. Unlike the modern ball, which is famously covered in Waterford crystal, the original ball was adorned with 100 light bulbs.

Did you know? Ball-dropping to mark time was not a new notion. In the 1830s, a ball was affixed to the top of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England – every day at 1 o’clock, the ball dropped to signal the time to nearby ships. Captains could accurately set their chronometers using this method.

These “time-balls” soon were used at locations around the world. Modern-day observers can still witness an active time-balls at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.

 

Old man with a sphere, Gonzales Coques, c. 17th century

-Written by Anna Zemaitaitis, Communications and Design Officer

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January 31
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