Arts & Entertainment

Original 1907 Times Square Ball Has Direct Link to New Jersey

4d32a97cf1505d8dca5f_sompixnyctimessquareballvintage.jpg
This is the second generation Times Square Ball, which replaced Palmer's 1907 design, shown in the 1940s; it was replaced by the third-generation design in 1955. Credits: New York Public Library
4d32a97cf1505d8dca5f_sompixnyctimessquareballvintage.jpg

NEW YORK – Walter Fuhrman Palmer, the head electrician at the venerable New York Times newspaper more than 100 years ago, helped to create a legacy shared by tens of millions of people who have jammed Times Square on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the traditional countdown to the New Year.

Palmer, who lived in Warren, NJ, designed the first giant sphere to drop on Times Square, the beginning of a tradition that will celebrate its 110th anniversary this New Year’s Eve, according to his great nephew, Somerset County Freeholder Director Peter Palmer.

The 80-year-old freeholder director, who is retiring after a 55-year career in elective office Jan. 5, never spoke directly with his great uncle about his design, but it was common knowledge within the family.

Sign Up for E-News

“Walter’s nephew was my grandfather, I saw him at family functions a number of times,” Palmer recalls.

One of the last times Palmer saw his great uncle was at his grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary..

“I was a teenager at the time, and he was in his 80s,” Palmer said.

The ball designed by Palmer was made of iron and wood and weighed 700 pounds and was five feet in diameter; its surface was a weave of wires and sockets, lit by 100 25-watt bulbs. It was built according to Palmer's specifications by a young immigrant metalworker named Jacob Starr, and for most of the 20th century the company he founded, sign maker Artkraft Strauss, was responsible for lowering the ball.

At midnight, Dec. 31, 1907, Palmer's New Year's Eve ball made its maiden descent, lowered by a crew of six men using pulleys attached to the re-purposed mainmast of a United States battleship.

Palmer doesn’t know for certain whether his great uncle was there to watch his creation launch the New Year, but his guess is that he was.

“The great shout that went up drowned out the whistles for a minute,” the New York Times reported at the time. “The vocal power of the welcomers rose above even the horns and the cow bells and the rattles. Above all else came the wild human hullabaloo of noise.”

The New York Times had constructed the building at One Times Square as its headquarters in 1904, and staged a massive New Year's Eve fireworks display to celebrate its opening. The newspaper’s owner, Adolph Ochs so enjoyed the spectacle that he followed up in 1905 and 1906, but in 1907, the New York City Police Department banned fireworks.

Ochs turned to Palmer to come up with an alternative.   

Palmer's idea came from an old maritime tradition – time balls. When standard time was created in the 1800's, sailors used what were called time balls to adjust their chronometers, or timepieces, while at sea. Using telescopes, they would watch for these time balls onshore to drop (typically around noon or 1 p.m.  and adjust accordingly. The first time ball to be installed in United States was in 1845 at the Naval Observatory in Washington.

Palmer died March 7, 1956 at Muhlenberg Hospital in Plainfield; his claim to fame was mentioned prominently in his obituary in the New York Times. He was 88.

The headline read: "WALTER PALMER, ELECTRICIAN, 88; Retired Department Head for The Times Dies--Directed Moving Sign Installation."

Though the tradition helped launched by Palmer continues, much has changed over the past 110 years.

“What Walter created is like comparing a Model T to a modern day sports car,” Palmer said.

The newspaper sold the building just 10 years after it opened; current owner Jamestown Properties has owned One Times Square since 1997. Today, the 25-story building is a massive electronic billboard, generating millions in advertising revenue for its owner.

The New Year's Eve ball has gone through seven re-designs in its history.

In 1920, a 400-pound ball made entirely of wrought iron replaced the original. In 1955, the iron ball was replaced with an aluminum ball weighing a mere 150 pounds. This aluminum ball remained unchanged until the 1980s, when red light bulbs and the addition of a green stem converted the ball into an apple for the "I Love New York" marketing campaign from 1981 until 1988. After seven years, the traditional glowing white ball with white light bulbs and without the green stem returned to light the sky above Times Square. In 1995, the ball was upgraded with aluminum skin, rhinestones, strobes, and computer controls, but the aluminum ball was lowered for the last time in 1998, according to the Time Square New York website.

For Times Square 2000, the millennium celebration at the Crossroads of the World, the New Year's Eve ball was completely redesigned by Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting. The crystal ball combined the latest in lighting technology with the most traditional of materials.

In 2007, for the 100th anniversary of the Times Square Ball Drop tradition, Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting crafted a new LED crystal ball. The incandescent and halogen bulbs of the past century were replaced by state-of-the-art  LED lighting technology that dramatically increased the brightness and color capabilities of the ball.

The seventh-generation ball weighs nearly six tons and is 12 feet in diameter, more than double Palmer's original design. 

The following information is provided by the Times Square New York website:

·  The ball is a geodesic sphere and weighs 11,875 pounds.

·  The ball is covered with a total of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that vary in size, and range in length from 4 ¾ inches to 5 ¾ inches per side.

·  For Times Square 2018, 288 of the Waterford triangles introduce the new Gift of Serenity design which is a pattern of cuts resembling butterflies flying peacefully above a meadow, capturing the spirit of serenity.

·   288 are the Gift of Kindness design consisting of a circle of rosettes symbolizing unity with the fronds reaching out in an expression of kindness.

·   288 are the Gift Of Wonder design composed by a faceted starburst inspiring our sense of wonder.

·   288 are the Gift of Fortitude design of diamond cuts on either side of a crystal pillar to represent the inner attributes of resolve, courage and spirit necessary to triumph over adversity.

·   The remaining 1,536 crystal triangles are the Gift of Imagination design with a series of intricate wedge cuts that are mirrored reflections of each other.

·  The 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles are bolted to 672 LED modules which are attached to the aluminum frame of the ball.

·  The ball is illuminated by 32,256 LEDs (light emitting diodes). Each LED module contains 48 LEDs - 12 red, 12 blue, 12 green, and 12 white for a total of 8,064 of each color.

·  The Ball is capable of displaying a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns that creates a spectacular kaleidoscope effect atop One Times Square.

·  This Big Times Square New Year's Eve Ball is now a year-round attraction sparkling above Times Square  in full public view January through December.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Parsippany

GFWC Woman's Club Denvilee Rockaway Area Places Flags on Veterans' Graves

May 20, 2018

GFWC Woman's Club of Denville-Rockaway Area Helps Honor Veteran's with Flags for Memorial Day

On a very rainy Saturday, May 19, fifteen members of the GFWC Woman's Club of Denville- Rockaway Area, along with local Cub Scouts, citizens, and Veterans helped Phyllis and Jim Vialard, board members of the Memorial Association of Rockaway, Marcella, and Denville, place flags on ...

ECLC Celebrates Special Education Week

ECLC of New Jersey’s school in Chatham is celebrating Special Education Week by highlighting how links with the community support our students with special needs.

The second week in May has been designated by Governor Phil Murphy as “Special Education Week” in the Garden State.  This year’s theme, “Working Together to Build a Special Future for All” ...

Sentencing in Parsippany Lab Scheme

FIVE FORMER SALESMEN FOR MORRIS COUNTY CLINICAL LAB SENTENCED FOR BRIBING DOCTORS IN $100 MILLION TEST REFERRAL SCHEME

NEWARK, N.J. – Five individuals were sentenced today for bribing doctors in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running and elaborate scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, New Jersey, its president and numerous ...

Active investigation into School Bus Crash on Route 80 in Mt. Olive Township   

Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp and New Jersey State Police Acting Superintendent Patrick Callahan can confirm an active investigation into a fatal motor vehicle crash that occurred earlier this morning on Route 80 in Mt. Olive Township, New Jersey.  

At approximately 10:20 a.m., authorities were notified of an incident that occurred in the area of mile marker 25 on Route 80 ...

NY Times Bestselling Parenting Author Speaks with Noelle Kirchner

Hometown TV host and pastor Noelle Kirchner sat down with NYT bestselling parenting author, Dr. Leonard Sax to discuss his newest book, The Collapse of Parenting.  Dr. Sax appeared at HomeTowne TV (HTTV) in mid-April for Noelle’s latest episode of her parenting series, Chaos to Calm.

As a parent, most of us want the best for our children, and with so much ...

Click It or Ticket Coming to Parsippany

News Release

Parsippany-Troy Hills Police Department

CHIEF ANDREW MILLER

3339 Route 46 Parsippany NJ 07054 973-263-4300
Contact: Patrolman Brian Conover Tues-Fri 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM 973-263-7012 Monday, Saturday, Sunday and after hours via Headquarters 973-263-4300

Seat Belt Enforcement and Education Campaign to be Conducted Locally as Part of Nationwide
Click It or Ticket ...

Upcoming Events

Sat, June 9, 10:00 AM

Lantern Hill, New Providence

Supporting a Loved One with Dementia: How to ...

Education Health & Wellness

Sun, June 10, 1:00 PM

Hartley Farms Polo Field, Morristown

Great Swamp Great Music Festival

Arts & Entertainment

Wed, June 20, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

The Masterwork Chorus Launches 19th Summer Sing ...

Arts & Entertainment

Podcast: The Royal Wedding Through the Eyes of a Brit

Olean, NY - For those interested in the Royal Wedding. Here is a TAPinto special. In their May 18 podcast, Giles Bootheway, a British citizen who teaches at St. Bonaventure University, shares his thoughts on the Royal Wedding with TAPinto Greater Olean Co-editor Richard Lee.

PLAY

 

Download the TAPinto App!   Click here for Android.  Click here for ...

The Changing Role of Freeholder

May 20, 2018

Cesaro-Dunn Team Announce Civic Education & Engagement Development (CEED)

The Number One Question We Get Asked on the Campaign Trail is this:  “What is a Freeholder?”

The CEED Initiative will eliminate that confusion and our work ethic and productivity will make it clear exactly how important a role Freeholder is.

The facts are here:

Most residents ...

Holding the line on Property Taxes is number one priority

As a candidate for Freeholder, property taxes and conservative fiscal policies are the number one priority.  I am proud of my record on the Freeholder board of having delivered 3 years of zero county property tax changes, the first time no tax increase was achieved in 20 years.

Keeping property taxes in line required an intensive line by line review of the budget and ...

Bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee: Menendez Broke Federal Law

Recently, the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee released a scathing Public Letter of Admonition stating that Senator Bob Menendez violated federal law, broke longstanding Senate Rules, and abused his position as as a member of the Senate to advance Dr. Melgen's personal and business interests.

"Senator Menendez has a history of unethical, corrupt behavior, and the Senate Ethics ...

Congressional Candidate Tony Ghee Candidate Statement

With the retirement of longtime Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen, the good people of Morris, Essex, Sussex and Passaic Counties will elect a new representative this November. It also means that our Republican Party has a choice to make, as well.

Do we nominate a career politician in an age when most people don’t trust their government or the people serving, or do we seize this ...

The Mothers of Morris County strengthen our families and communities every day!

Candidate Statement

May 13, 2018

Contact: Aura Dunn

703-568-4627

The Mothers of Morris County strengthen our families and communities every day!

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday of May “Mother’s Day,” and called on the nation to display the flag as a public expression of our love and reverence for mothers.

President Wilson likely ...

FREEHOLDER CANDIDATE AURA DUNN ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: REMOVING SHAME FOR ITS VICTIMS IS HOW WE END IT!

Candidate Statement by

Aura Dunn

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Contact: 703-568-4627

I had the honor this week to sit beside Partner in Justice Awardee, Karen Arakelian, at the Annual Partners for Women and Justice: Celebrate HOPE Event.  Karen is a kind-spoken and successful businesswoman.  As the owner of White House Designs in Fairfield, her work ethic is like no other.  As ...

Happy Mother's Day to All Mothers - Past, Present and Future

As a digital marketer I am on social media quite a bit, but on a day like today I get a hole in my heart and a pit in my stomach.  Everyone with best wishes in mind, is wishing a Happy Mother's Day and posting pictures of their kids and gifts and breakfasts in bed.  But my first thoughts are always my friends, who lost their mom or even worse, friends that lost their ...

Vote Aura Dunn for Freeholder

May 14, 2018

Dear Editor,

I would like to thank Aura Dunn, for your April 29 Call to Action for Autistic Adults.  Dunn’s laser focus on the issue and ability to identify the immediate need tells me she is just the problem-solving voice Morris County needs on the Freeholder Board.  What’s more, her fresh perspective, compassion, and understanding of  the day-to-day struggles ...

Do kids need to be part of the policy debate?

LD35 Senator Nellie Pou (Paterson) cause quite a stir this week related to the NJ-11 Congressional Campaign. Let’s review. Pou called into question Jay Webber’s consistent voting record against legislation to support women…

“Why Webber would not support countless pieces of legislation that would have ensured equal pay
for equal work as well as equal access to ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...