The Times Square Ball is a time ball located atop the One Times Square building in New York City, primarily utilized as part of New Year’s Eve celebrations held in Times Square. Yearly at 11:59 p.m. EST on December 31, the ball is lowered 141 feet (43 m) down a specially designed flagpole, resting at midnight to signal the start of the New Year.
The first ball drop in Times Square took place on December 31, 1907, and 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 new advances in technologies—its original design utilized 100 incandescent light bulbs, iron, and wood in its construction, while its current incarnation features a computerized LED lighting system and an outer surface consisting of triangle-shaped crystal panels.
As of 2009, the ball is also displayed atop One Times Square year-round and is removed only for general maintenance. The Times Square ball drop is one of the best-known New Year’s celebrations internationally, attended by at least 1 million spectators yearly, with an estimated global audience of at least 1 billion. The prevalence of the Times Square ball drop has also inspired other similar “drops” held locally in other cities and towns across the United States.