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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

History of New Years Eve Celebrations in Times Square, New York City

Times Square, one of New York City’s premier tourist destinations, is located on a major intersection in Midtown Manhattan--at the junction of Broadway and 27th Street and from West 42nd Street to West 47th Street. It occupies the blocks between 6th and 8th Avenues from east to west, and West 40th and West 53rd Streets from north to south.

Formerly known as Longacre Square, Times Square was renamed in 1904 after The New York Times moved its headquarters to the newly erected Times Building.

New York in 1904 was a city on the verge of tremendous changes - and, not surprisingly, many of those changes had their genesis in the bustling energy and thronged streets of Times Square. Two innovations that would completely transform the Crossroads of the World debuted in 1904: the opening of the city's first subway line, and the first-ever celebration of New Year's Eve in Times Square.

Looking north from 43rd street, a huge crowd gathers around a Christmas tree to welcome in 1938

The 1904 all-day street festival culminated in a fireworks display set off from the base of the Times building, and at midnight the joyful sound of cheering, rattles and noisemakers from the over 200,000 attendees could be heard, it was said, from as far away as Croton-on-Hudson, thirty miles north along the Hudson River.

The New York Times' description of the occasion paints a rapturous picture: "From base to dome the giant structure was lit - a torch to usher in the newborn year..."

The night was such a rousing success that Times Square instantly replaced Lower Manhattan's Trinity Church as "the" place in New York City to ring in the New Year. Before long, this party of parties would capture the imagination of the nation, and the world.

New Year’s Eve at Times Square is now a global tradition. Approximately 1 million people gather there each year; additionally, millions across the United States and about 1 billion people all over the world tune into the New Year’s Eve celebration. The famous ball (currently made of Waterford Crystal) drops from One Times Square, a tradition that began on December 31, 1907 and has continued ever since, except during World War Two when a moment of silence was observed followed by the tolling of church bells, as the blackout restrictions prevented excessive New Year’s Eve festivities.

 Times Square has cemented its place in American popular culture. It has been featured in movies such as Vanilla Sky, King Kong, and Spider-Man. ABC’s Good Morning America and MTV’s Total Request Live are broadcast live from their studios at Times Square. Additionally, many exclusive, popular, and specialty retailers and restaurants have locations at Times Square, such as the Hard Rock Cafй, Virgin Records, Toys R Us, ESPN Zone, Sketchers, Planet Hollywood, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, Ruby Foo’s, and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. Today’s Times Square is a perfect family destination.

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