The History of America’s Favorite New Year’s Eve Tradition

The History of New Year's Eve in America

Every year on December 31, millions of Americans gather to celebrate New Year’s Eve and watch the ball drop in Times Square. But, why a ball and why is it in Times Square? Well, it all goes back to sailors and time balls.

Time balls were created as a result of standard time. Sailors used telescopes to find them in the harbor and waited for them to drop at a certain time.

The NY Times chief electrician, Walter Palmer, decided that one of those balls should be used to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

You see, in 1904, New York City’s (NYC) New Year’s Eve celebration moved to the NY Times building. Instead of the chimes they usually listened to when the year ended at midnight, the Times lit fireworks to awe the crowds. Unfortunately, they didn’t think about the hot ashes that the fireworks produced and people were injured.

As a result of the incident, the police banned fireworks and Palmer was asked to come up with a new lighted way to ring in the new year. So, to ring in 1908, the first ball made of 100 25-watt light bulbs, iron and wood, dropped.

And with that, our New Year’s Eve tradition was born.

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