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c. 1920s - 1970s

New Year’s in Times Square, over the years

For over 100 years, crowds have filled the streets at midnight

There are few global locations as significant to New Year’s Eve as New York’s Times Square, aka “The CrossRoads of the World.”

The area takes its name from the 1904 building created as the headquarters of the New York Times – 1 Times Square. Since 1907, that building has welcomed up to a million people every New Year’s Eve for the annual ball drop.

Once upon a time, the dropping of such balls was used routinely used as a time signal. But Adolph Ochs, the then-owner of the New York Times, decided to arrange a ball drop to follow up the fireworks with which he had launched the opening of his building.

The first drop, using a ball made of wood and 100 light bulbs, attracted around 200,000 people. Over the years, it swiftly overtook the more conventional celebrations at New York’s St Patrick’s Cathedral. Except for 1942 and 1943, the ball drop has been an annual event ever since.

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Ironically, in 1913, the New York Times moved out of Times Square for good.

1926
An aerial view of Times Square on New Year’s Eve
Getty Images
1935
Times Square, New Year’s Eve.
Getty Images
1936
Times Square.
Getty Images
1937
A street vender selling noise-makers in Times Square to the crowd that gathered to welcome 1938.
Getty Images
1938
Looking north on Times Square.
NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
1939
People celebrating.
AFP/Getty Images
1941
Mounted policemen near Times Square.
Getty Images
1941
Military police in Times Square.
Getty Images
1952
A young man slumped against railings blows on a battered toy trumpet during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square.
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1952
Crowds standing near an illuminated sign advertising the roman epic “Quo Vadis.”
Ernst Haas/Getty Images
1969
Times Square from overhead.
Getty Images
1977
“What Goes Up – The New Year couldn’t happen without Russell Brown, building superintendent at 1 Times Square, who makes sure that the lighted ball he’s admiring here drops at just the right time.”
Vic DeLucia/New York Post Archives /NYP Holdings, Inc./Getty Images

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