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Don't Drop the Ball! Oh Wait, You Can Drop that One...

2017 is just about over, it's in the books, finished, get the point. Hopefully this past year was good to you all. As we build up too New Years Eve we though it would be fun to look at the Times Square Ball Drop and run through a few facts that maybe you didn't know about that glowing engineering marvel!

The famous illuminated ball, dropped from a flagpole atop One Times Square, is crafted from Waterford Crystal—it measures 12 feet in diameter, weighs a whopping 11,875 pounds, and can create a mind-boggling display of more than 16 million colors.

Quick Backstory of New Year's Eve in Times Square

Times Square has been party central for New Year's Eve since 1904—an inaugural bash that also celebrated the opening of the new headquarters of The New York Times with more than 200,000 revelers. A tradition was born, and when fireworks were temporarily banned in the city, the tradition of the ball drop began for the 1908 celebrations; it's been continued ever since (with the exception of a couple of years during WWII).

Seven versions of the Ball have been designed to signal the New Year.

The first New Year’s Eve Ball, made of iron and wood and adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs, was 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds. It was built by a young immigrant metalworker named Jacob Starr, and for most of the twentieth century the company he founded, sign maker Artkraft Strauss, was responsible for lowering the Ball.

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 brightly 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.

Interesting lighting & mechanical facts about the ball

  • The Ball is a geodesic sphere, 12 feet in diameter, 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 3⁄4 inches to 5 3⁄4 inches per side

  • For Times Square 2018, 288 Waterford Crystal 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 triangles are the Gift of Imagination design with a series of intricate wedge cuts that are mirrored reflections of each other inspiring our imagination.

  • 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 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs (light emitting diodes). Each LED module contains 48 Philips Luxeon Rebel 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.

(Information obtained on the site)

In Closing...

I hope you found this as interesting as I did. Again, check out the Times Square Alliance Website for the full article and more information. If you feel inspired and would like to install your very own 6 Ton crystal LED lit, color changing orb, let us know! We're looking to do our first one ASAP!

But if you just have questions on lighting technologies and controls for say, your building, we're thrilled to help with that too!

For more information on electrical and lighting system engineering click here or simply contact us. Until next time!

"Dropping the Ball", Smarter...

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