Little Bits of History

Longacre Square

Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 31, 2011

Longacre Square, New York City, 1880

December 31, 1904: New York City hosts a New Year’s Eve celebration held at Longacre Square. This major intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue actually encompasses several blocks. It stretches from West 42nd Street to West 47th Street and includes the blocks between Sixth and Eighth Avenues. In the heart of Manhattan, it is smaller than Red Square in Moscow and Trafalgar Square in London. However, it is still recognized worldwide. Today it is called Times Square and is the site of a major New Year’s Eve party each year.

The New Year’s Eve celebrations of 1904-1906 were brightened by fireworks. Since 1907 a lighted ball has been dropped from One Times Square. The first ball was made of iron and wood and weighed 700 pounds. It was illuminated by 100 25-watt light bulbs. In 1920 a 400 pound ball made of iron replaced it. During World War II (1942 and 1943) the ball was not dropped because of wartime light restrictions. Instead, at midnight there was a moment of silence in deference to all those fighting for freedom around the world.

In 1955 a new aluminum ball was put in place and weighed only 150 pounds. During the 1980s with an ad campaign of “I Luv NY” and the era of the Big Apple, lights were changed to red and a green stem was added. By the end of the decade, white lights again were in place. In 1995, upgrades to the ball added rhinestones and strobe lights with a computer controlled light show. For the worldwide millennial celebration of 2000, a totally new Waterford Crystal ball was made weighing 1,070 pounds. The exterior was lit with 168 halogen bulbs to enhance the 504 crystal triangles. The interior was lighted with 208 clear bulbs and 56 bulbs each in red, yellow, green, and blue. Another 96 high intensity strobe lights were added. The entire 696 lights and 90 rotating crystals were computer controlled.

New Year’s Eve is the final day of the Gregorian calendar. Western culture celebrates with parties spanning the transition of one year to the next. New Zealand is the first country to celebrate each year because of its position close to the International Date Line. Fireworks are a popular entertainment feature around the globe. Champagne is often used to help welcome the new year or perhaps to help forget the old. However you look at it, may you find peace in the New Year.

“Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you’re forced to.” – Bill Vaughn

“Despite the common assumption that New Year’s Eve is a wall-to-wall party, this poll finds that most people will be safe at home celebrating with friends and family, with the Times Square countdown in the background.” – Maurice Carroll

“The Old Year has gone.  Let the dead past bury its own dead.  The New Year has taken possession of the clock of time.  All hail the duties and possibilities of the coming twelve months!” – Edward Payson Powell

“New Year’s Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.” – Mark Twain

Also on this day:

Dupont Plaza Hotel – In 1986, three unhappy employees set the hotel on fire.
Quarters – In 1960, the farthing was finished.

One Response

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  1. Forgotten New England said, on December 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Interesting post! I’ve been curious about the history of Times Square and its New Year’s Eve celebration. Thanks for sharing and happy new year to you!

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