The first New Year’s Eve “ball drop” in Times Square
December 31, 2023
An event every year that begins at 12:00 am on day 31 of December, repeating indefinitely
On this day in 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-ball at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.