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It’s an American Icon. But How Did the NYE Ball Come to Light Up Time’s Square Every Year?

It started in 1907, with a new years eve ball made of iron and wood, lit up with one-hundred, 100-W light bulbs. It was 5-ft in diameter and set atop One Time’s Square then, and still today, dropping from a specially-designed flag pole.

In 2016, it dropped again, but with a whopping 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs and 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles. How far it’s come!

2016 New Year’s Eve Ball

  • The Ball is a geodesic sphere, 12 feet in diameter, and weighs 11,875 pounds.
  • It is capable of displaying more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns.
  • Illuminated by 32,256 LEDs; each LED module contains 48 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs – 12 red, 12 blue, 12 green, and 12 white for a total of 8,064 of each color.
  • The Ball is covered with a total of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that vary in size, and range in length from 4 ¾ inches to 5 ¾ inches per side.

NYE Ball Through the Years

  • 1920: A new, wrought-iron ball replaced the first version made of wood.
  • 1942-1943: The only 2 years that the ball has not dropped, due to the wartime “dimout” of lights in NYC.
  • 1955: A new, aluminum ball was created, weighing only 150lbs.
  • 1981-1988: Red and green light bulbs created an apple for the “I Love New York” marketing campaign.
  •  1995: The ball was upgraded with aluminum skin, rhinestones, strobes and computer controls.
  • 2000: The ball was completely redesigned by Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting.
  • 2007: For the 100th anniversary, the crystal and LED design was introduced.

Did you know that the New Year’s Eve Ball is a permanent fixture in Time’s Square? It stays in full public view all year long! They test it every year, just a few days before the big celebration. Watch this year’s test:


Times Square Alliance: About the NYE Ball
Times Square Alliance: History of the NYE Ball
Today.com: 5 Facts on the NYE Ball.

Photo Credit: Countdown Entertainment