Annmarie Fertoli, Associate Producer, WNYC News
Annmarie Fertoli is an Associate Producer at WNYC, working with the afternoon news team to produce All Things Considered.
Gathering in Times Square has long been a New Year's Eve tradition, even before the first ball drop.
The New York Public Library's Carmen Nigro said it began in 1904, with the opening of the New York Times building in Times Square, amid fireworks. Nigro said it was a momentous year for the city, as it was also the year the first subway opened.
The annual ball drop didn't begin until three years later, in 1907. The drop, she explained, began as a time-keeping mechanism.
"Western Union downtown dropped a ball at noon every day so that people could synchronize their wind-up watches," she said.
Nigro said the first New Year's Eve ball was lit up with 100 20-watt bulbs. Now it's lit by over 32,000 LEDs.