It’s that time of year again: the flashing New Year’s Eve ball waiting to descend from the top of One Times Square, upbeat performances from celebrities, and vibrantly colored confetti raining from the sky. Every year, millions of people watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, on television or in-person (though in-person is severely limited in celebration of 2022). Though the New Year’s Eve ball drop is one of New York City’s most famous traditions, many don’t know how this worldwide event came to be. So just in time for the new year, here are our favorite secrets of the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square.
10. There’s a Ball Vault deep below One Times Square
While the current New Year’s Eve ball hangs out at the top of One Times Square all year long, two old New Year’s Eve balls sit in the building’s basement in the Ball Vault. The Millennium Ball (used from 12/31/1999 to 12/31/2005) and the Centennial Ball (used on 12/31/2006, the 100th anniversary of the ball drop) are stored 50 feet below the building, even beneath the subway tracks. A New York Times article from 2009 also reported that there were other New Year’s Eve-related items in the vault such as “silly-looking hats from 1976” and t-shirts from 1997. Another historic ball is stored at the Atlanta headquarters of Jamestown L.P., the company that owns One Times Square.
One Times Square is one of the emptiest yet most profitable buildings in Midtown Manhattan. Rather than renting out space to various tenants, the building’s owners make money off its billboards, which are seen by millions on New Year’s Eve. One of the few occupied spaces within the building is the New Year’s Eve headquarters on the 22nd floor. There, plans are arranged for the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations.