Some Thoughts on New Year’s Eve

From the New York Times’ newsfeed —

Have you ever wondered why that iconic New York City landmark is called Times Square?

Originally Longacre Square, the name was changed in 1904 to honor The New York Times moving its offices there.

The newspaper’s publisher during that era, Adolph Ochs, celebrated the move by staging a New Year’s Eve fireworks display. The midnight ball drop began three years later. The irony is The Times no longer occupies the building in the Square’s center.

Since then, the celebration in Times Square has become part of American culture. But some years have been more memorable than others.

in 1917, New Year’s Eve in Times Square was “thoroughly sedate and solemn”; the U.S. was in World War I. Sugar was being rationed, and the Waldorf Astoria hotel was not serving meat.

The next New Year’s Eve, 1918, wasn’t much better — by the end of the year, the Spanish Flu pandemic has already killed tens of thousands of people.

In contrast, New Year’s Eve 1941 was upbeat and patriotic since we were officially in World War II. More than half a million people gathered to cheer and sing the national anthem despite a strong police presence and street signs with evacuation instructions.

The celebratory mood quickly changed. German submarines had a “happy time” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Happy_Time) finding merchant ships silhouetted against brightly lit U.S. cities, so nighttime lighting became subdued and there were no Times Square ball drops in 1942 and 1943.

Then television was invented and everyone could at least feel like they were taking part in the New York celebration.

But no matter where you find yourself tonight, Happy New Year!

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