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What New Year’s Eve in Times Square Looked Like Through the Years

Few New Year’s Eve traditions are as iconic as watching the ball drop in Times Square. This American tradition began in 1907, but the look and feel of the event has changed over time. Take a peek into the past with these photos of New Year’s Eve through the decades.

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This is a general view of Times Square as vast throngs jammed it early today to ring in 1937Lhn/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1936

Times Square in the 1930s may have been a little less commercialized than it is today, but a huge crowd still gathered to ring in 1937.

These vintage New Year’s Eve party recipes are worth trying today.

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Workmen are busy putting up wooden frameworks on shop windows around New York's Times Square, to guard against broken windows during New Year's Eve crowd Times SquareUncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1938

Rowdy crowds on New Year’s Eve are nothing new. Back in 1938, this shopkeeper boarded up his window to guard against the expected throng of revelers.

Check out these fascinating New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world.

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Times Square New Years Eve, New York City, USAMatty Zimmerman/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1941

These party-goers are just a handful of the estimated half a million people in Times Square who helped ring in 1942. Today, the event typically draws over two million.

Hosting a party for a crowd this year? These recipes will feed 12 or more.

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Jam-packed Times Square in New York was made exactly, as New Yorkers thronged the "white way" to welcome 1946. The view is from 47th Street and Broadway, looking south New Years in Times Square, New York, USAJohn Lent/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1945

Revelers in 1945 had more than just a new year to celebrate—World War II ended just a few months prior. The glowing ball took a temporary hiatus in 1942 and 1943 due to a “dim-out” that helped protect the city. Here are the thrifty recipes Grandma made during WWII.

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This is a photo looking south from the Marquee of the Hotel Astor during the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square in New York CityAP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1958

This view of Times Square was taken from the Hotel Astor—one of New York’s most famous vintage hotels. Today the space is occupied by an office tower. 

Celebrate New Year’s with these vintage recipes from the 1950s.

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A wall-to-wall crowd fills New York's Times Square as "1966" is flashed on the front of the Allied Chemical tower at the stroke of midnight and the old year ends, . The tower is the former Times Tower with a new facade of white marble making its debut to a New Years Eve crowdHarvey Lippman/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1966

A large group helped to welcome in the new year in the late 1960s. We hope they stayed warm with cozy drinks like these.

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As a smoke bomb goes off at center, revelers welcome 1977 at New York's Times Square Friday nightSuzanne Vlamis/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1976

In this shot from the late 1970s, a smoke bomb helps to welcome in the New Year with a big crowd. Today, the city hands out party favors like hats and glasses to revelers.

Short on time? You need these quick 30-minute New Year’s Eve recipes.

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New York City Mayor Ed Koch gives the thumbs up sign as he flips a switch to test the Big Apple Ball, in New York. The mayor was helping to test the red and green lighted apple which will descend on Times Square this New Year?s Eve. The tradition of the ball was established in 1907Lederhandler/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1981

In 1981 the famous New Year’s ball got a new look. This time, it resembled a “big apple” designed after the city’s nickname.

Here are the very best recipes from New York.

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Joe Kafka, below, hands an unidentified co-worker letters from a "Happy New Year" marquee on the Cineplex Odeon movie theater in New York's Times Square, the morning after revelers rang in the new yearMonika Graff/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1992

One aspect of the New Year’s Eve celebration they don’t show on TV? Cleanup. This shot shows crews cleaning up the morning after guests ushered in 1993.

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Lisa Urgo, right, of Floral Park, N.Y., and her friend Patrick Laih, of Elmont, N.Y., arrive in Times Square Sunday afternoon, for New Year's celebrationsMark Lennihan/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1995

Those funny glasses that spell out the upcoming new year? They’re nothing new. This excited duo arrived at Time Square in the early afternoon to snag a spot for welcoming in 1996. 

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Dick Clark broadcasts New Year's festivities from Times Square in New York for ABCWally Santana/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1996

If you’ve ever watched the ball drop on TV, you’re likely familiar with Dick Clark. This legendary host helped bring the holiday festivities in Times Square to living rooms across America. This photo from 1996 shows Clark in the midst of his broadcast.

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Mizumi Malfitamo from Italy waves an American flag in celebration as the new year arrives at Times Square in New York CityStephan Savoia/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 1999

To some revelers, ringing in 2000 felt a little scary as there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the new millennium. But this group of party-goers welcomed the new year with a lot of enthusiasm.

Get ready for the countdown with these clink-worthy cocktails.

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A crystal ball honouring victims of the World Trade Center attack dropped in Times Square at midnight Monday, signaling the arrival of 2002 and giving patriotic revellers a chance to bid farewell to a year of horrors and heroes.Erik Pendzich/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 2001

2001 was a year many Americans were eager to put in the past. A special tribute ball was dropped to honor the victims of 9/11.

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Maylynn Rodriguez cheers after the countdown in Times Square during the New Year's celebration early, in New YorkGo Nakamura/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New Year’s Eve 2017

Surrounded by the glitz and glam of today’s Time Square, one reveler smiles as she welcomes in 2018. The event was one of the coldest on record.

Katie Bandurski
Katie is an Associate Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in writing and email newsletters. When she’s out of the office, you’ll find her exploring Wisconsin, trying out new vegetarian recipes and combing through antique shops.
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