Audience versions of this page: FamilyOn December 31, 1904, New Yorkers first celebrated New Year’s Eve in Times Square. About 200,000 people showed up for that first celebration. Today, more than a million people—mostly tourists—crowd the busy plaza every December 31.The first Times Square celebrations were marked with fireworks displays. Safety concerns ended that tradition in 1907. That year, the New York Times, which originally sponsored the celebrations, began dropping a “time ball” signifying the new year. Time balls are an ancient signaling device used by mariners. A worker at a facility on land would drop a large metal ball perched atop a tall building at a specific time, allowing sailors to set their chronometers at sea. Time can be used to determine longitude, so time balls not only told sailors the time, they also allowed mariners to know their position and navigate successfully.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry ancient Adjective
to observe or mark an important event with public and private ceremonies or festivities.
timepiece designed to be accurate in extreme conditions of wind, water, and pressure.
type of glass in which a material (traditionally, lead oxide) is added to improve the glass' appearance. Also called lead crystal or crystal glass.
tool or piece of machinery.
a building or room that serves a specific function.
fireworks Plural Noun
controlled explosive devices that produce a striking display of light and loud noise, used for signaling or as part of a celebration.
a type of electric light in which light is produced by a filament heated by electric current.
(light emitting diode) device (semiconductor) that emits light when an electric current passes through it.
distance east or west of the prime meridian, measured in degrees.
Encyclopedic Entry: longitude mariner Noun
category of elements that are usually solid and shiny at room temperature.
to plan and direct the course of a journey.
to sit or rest on a tree branch or other elevated position.
urban public square or open space.
to communicate using signs.
to signal or represent.
to support and finance.
time ball Noun
ancient device made of a large ball dropped from support on a tall building at a predetermined time, signaling the time for ships at sea.
person who travels for pleasure.
beliefs, customs, and cultural characteristics handed down from one generation to the next.