On New Year's Eve, a number of word class cities will harken in 2013 with giant fireworks displays. In New York City, a giant ball suspended above Times Square will slowly descend at midnight.
Until 1903, the largest New Year's Eve gathering of New Yorkers took place at Trinity Church on Wall Street and Broadway. The New York Times described the scene in 1897: "The crowds came from every section of the city, and among the thousands, who cheered or tooted tin horns, as the chimes were rung out on the night, were many from New Jersey, Long Island, and even Staten Island." Things were much the same for another half-dozen years. But as December 31, 1904 approached, many party-goers were persuaded to attend a different celebration far uptown.
Until that time, the area where 7th Avenue, Broadway and 42 Street met was called Long Acre Square. The Detroit Publishing Company sells a print showing what it looked like back in those days:
That narrow building rising all by itself, then the second tallest in New York City, is the just-finished headquarters of The New York Times newspaper. Its publisher, Adolph Ochs, had successfully lobbied city leaders to change Longacre Square's name to Times Square earlier that year. He then resolved to throw a New Year's Eve celebration that would be the talk of the town. "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, "and at midnight the joyful sound of cheering, rattles and noisemakers from the over 200,000 attendees could be heard, it was said, from as far away as Croton-on-Hudson, thirty miles north."