This information is courtesy of the Times Square Alliance.
Tonight in 1904 is the first time there was a massive celebration in Times Square.
This inaugural bash commemorated the official opening of the new headquarters of The New York Times. The newspaper’s owner, German Jewish immigrant Alfred Ochs, had successfully lobbied the city to rename Longacre Square, the district surrounding his paper’s new home, in honor of the famous publication.
At the first celebration, there were fireworks. Two years later, the city banned fireworks.
He (Ochs) arranged to have a large, illuminated seven-hundred-pound iron and wood ball lowered from the tower flagpole precisely at midnight to signal the end of 1907 and the beginning of 1908.
For more history of New Year’s Eve and Times Square, please visit the Times Square Alliance.
Sidenote: The old Times Square/Broadway area used to have a really Vegas-style look.