By Kathy Kovach
This year, once my brain cleared up after two flutes of Welch’s, I started thinking about this strange tradition. Why a ball? Why a drop? Why New York?
In 1904, the New York Times moved into a new building—the second largest skyscraper in the city. It perched on a triangle of land in Longacre Square, soon to be renamed Times Square, and the address of the tall tower became One Times Square. This same year, the subway line opened, and the newspaper’s publisher, Adolph Ochs, felt a hefty celebration was in order to commemorate the exciting changes and growth. He commissioned Ukrainian immigrant and metal worker, Jacob Starr, to set up a tall sign boasting the numbers of the new year. At precisely midnight, the electric numbers were to be turned on and fireworks would be set off from the base of the building.
However, the firework celebration ended after only a few years due to hot embers falling on the revelers below. In 1907, Ochs again consulted Starr, who was working at a sign-making firm called Strauss Signs to come up with a better display. Remembering the use of time balls, they, along with New York Times chief electrician, Walter Palmer, devised the now infamous ball drop.
Even though electricity wasn’t a new concept at the turn of the century, many houses were still lit with candles and gas lights. That first ball had to be spectacular and something no one had ever seen before. The 700-pound iron ball was five feet in diameter, and fitted with 25-watt lightbulbs. It descended down the pole, and the moment it landed on the rooftop, the lights were turned off and the tall sign displaying 1908 turned on, making it seem as thought the ball had magically become the numbers denoting the new year.
|The ball drops behind the numbers, goes dark and the new year numbers spectacularly light up|
MissAdventure Brides Collection
Seven daring damsels don’t let the norms of their eras hold them back. Along the way these women attract the attention of men who admire their bravery and determination, but will they let love grow out of the adventures? Includes:
"Riders of the Painted Star" by Kathleen E. Kovach
New York City artist, Zadie Fitzpatrick, who no doubt witnessed many New Year ball drops in her time, is commissioned to go on location in Arizona to paint illustrations for an author of western novels and falls for the male model.
Kathleen E. Kovach is a Christian romance author published traditionally through Barbour Publishing, Inc. as well as indie. Kathleen and her husband, Jim, raised two sons while living the nomadic lifestyle for over twenty years in the Air Force. Now planted in northeast Colorado, she's a grandmother, though much too young for that. Kathleen is a longstanding member of American Christian Fiction Writers. An award-winning author, she presents spiritual truths with a giggle, proving herself as one of God's peculiar people.