The most famous image that welcomes each New Year for many millions around the world is the dropping of the Ball in Times Square, NYC, on New Year's Eve.
The tradition began more than a century ago when Adolph S. Ochs, publisher of the New York Times, hired Jacob Star, a metalworker to build & lower the first Ball, a 700 pound wood & iron ball--5 feet in diameter & illuminated by 100 - 25 watt bulbs, to mark the passing from 1907 to 1908. This year's new Times Square New Year's Eve Ball is a geodesic sphere, 12 feet in diameter, double the size of previous balls & weighs 11,875 pounds. It is covered in 2,668 triangle shaped crystals made in Ireland by Waterford artisans, most of these featuring the design of an angel with uplifted wings, the rest adorned with a starburst. It is powered by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs designed to create a spectacular multi-colored kaleidoscopic effect of more than 16 million colors & billions of patterns.
The cost of the New Year's Eve Ball? Two million dollars, twice as much as the last ball built in 2007. The ball drops 77 feet in 60 seconds. Before 1995, it was done by 'six guys with ropes & a stopwatch'. In 1995, computer controls were added and now it's 'one guy & a button for the winch', according to Countdown Entertainment, that oversees the event.
The Ball has been lowered every year since 1907, with the exception of 1942 & 1943, when the ceremony was suspended due to the wartime 'dimout' of lights in NYC. The crowds still gathered in Times Square in those years & greeted the New Year with a minute of silence followed by the ringing of chimes from sound trucks parked at the base of the tower---symbolic of the past, when New Yorkers gathered at Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan, where the chiming of the bells 'rang out the old & rang in the new'.
The tradition of ball 'dropping' to signal the passage of time dates back long before New Year's