NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Before the turn of the 20th century, Trinity Church was the place to be in New York on New Year’s Eve.

But, as WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman noted, when The New York Times moved to its new home on 42nd Street and gave Longacre Square a brand new name, its bosses figured: Why not celebrate?

The new tradition in Times Square began on Dec. 31, 1907.

There were fireworks those first few years, but when city officials got tired of hot ashes singeing the crowd, those were banned.

So the Times asked its chief electrician to come up with something new. The lightbulb in his mind was a memory of seeing one of the time balls that drop in ports around the world every day at noon.

PHOTOS: Times Square Ready For New Year’s Eve Celebration

That first year, the ball was made of iron and wood with 25 bulbs descending on the repurposed mast of the battleship USS Mexico atop 1 Times Square, the highest point for many blocks around in those days.

At 10 minutes to midnight, wrote the newspaper of record, the whistles on every boiler in Manhattan, the Bronx and Brooklyn began to screech. Above all else came the wild human hullabaloo of noise out of which could be formed dimly the words “hurrah” from 1908.

Though there was a good deal of confetti slung around, The Times said, the champagne opened would have easily floated it down to the river.

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