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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.

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

An aerial view of Times Square on New Year’s Eve
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Times Square, New Year’s Eve.
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Times Square.
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A street vender selling noise-makers in Times Square to the crowd that gathered to welcome 1938.
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Looking north on Times Square.
NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
People celebrating.
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Mounted policemen near Times Square.
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Military police in Times Square.
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A young man slumped against railings blows on a battered toy trumpet during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square.
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Crowds standing near an illuminated sign advertising the roman epic “Quo Vadis.”
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Times Square from overhead.
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“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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