January 2, 2013 By News Staff
Answer: Because in the early 1900s, New York City prohibited the fireworks display that previously occurred on New Year's Eve.
In 1897, crowds came from every section of the city to celebrate New Year's Eve in what was then called Longacre Square. But as NYE 1904 approached, "many party-goers were persuaded to attend a different celebration far uptown," The Atlantic Cities reported.
Earlier that year, The New York Times publisher Alfred Ochs had gotten city leaders to change Longacre Square's name to Times Square -- and with fierce competition, Ochs resolved to throw a New Year's Eve celebration that would be the talk of the town, according to The Atlantic Cities. "An all-day street festival culminated in a fireworks display set off from the base of the tower," according to an official history published by the Times Square District Management Association.
The annual event was born. But just two years later, the city prohibited the fireworks display. So Ochs "arranged to have a large, illuminated seven-hundred-pound iron and wood ball lowered from the tower flagpole precisely at midnight to signal the end of 1907 and the beginning of 1908," according to the official history.
The ball has gone through many transformations over the years -- today's ball weighs 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is covered in 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles, according to The Atlantic Cities.
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