Day 31: How The Times Started a Beloved Tradition, in 10 … 9 … 8 …

I have a confession to make. It took me an embarrassing number of years working at The New York Times, in Times Square, before someone finally helped me realize that the neighborhood’s name wasn’t a coincidence.

Not only is the city’s neon epicenter named for the paper, which for decades was headquartered right in the heart of the square, but the famous ball drop that heralds the start of a new year also has Timesian origins. As Raillan Brooks and Alexandria Symonds explain in their Times Insider dive into the tradition’s history, it all started with a bang — literally — in 1904 when the paper’s publisher, Adolph S. Ochs, decided to show off the company’s new building on West 43rd Street with a little dynamite and a rooftop pyrotechnic show. The sight, The Times reported the next day, was “a torch to usher in the new born, a funeral pyre for the old which pierced the very heavens.”

Whether you’re joining the throngs in Times Square or watching from home, I wish you a festive end to 2022 and much peace and joy in the new year to come. Cheers to 2023.