The Times Square Ball is a time ball located in New York City‘s Times Square. Located on the roof of One Times Square, the ball is a prominent part of a New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square colloquially known as the ball drop, where the ball descends 141 feet (43 m) in 60 seconds down a specially designed flagpole, beginning at 11:59 p.m. ET, and resting at midnight to signal the start of the new year. Various musical and other entertainment performances are held between 6 pm and 12:15 am.
The event was first organized by Adolph Ochs, owner of The New York Times newspaper, as a successor to a series of New Year’s Eve fireworks displays he held at the building to promote its status as the new headquarters of the Times, while the ball itself was designed by Artkraft Strauss. First held on December 31, 1907, to welcome 1908, the ball drop has been held annually since, except in 1942 and 1943 in observance of wartime blackouts. The ball’s design has also been updated over the years to reflect improvements in lighting technology; the original design was made from wood and iron and lit with 100 incandescent light bulbs, while its current incarnation features a computerized LED lighting system and an outer surface consisting of triangle-shaped crystal panels. Since 2009, the current ball has been displayed atop the building year-round, while the original, smaller version of the current ball that was used in 2008 is on display at Times Square’s visitor center.
The event is organized by the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, a company led by Jeff Strauss, and is among the most notable New Year’s celebrations internationally: it is attended by at least 1 million spectators yearly, and is nationally televised as part of New Year’s Eve specials broadcast by a number of networks and cable channels. The prevalence of the Times Square ball drop has also inspired similar “drops” at other local New Year’s Eve events, often substituting balls for objects that represent local history or culture.
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