That tradition dates back to 1907. The first New Year's Eve Ball was lowered on a flagpole on top of the building where The New York Times was headquartered. The ball was 700 pounds, made of iron and wood and was covered with 100 light bulbs.
But according to The New Yorker, the ball-drop was a back-up plan. Originally, the owner of the Times wanted to set off a giant fireworks display instead, but the city wouldn't issue him a permit.
Fast-forward to 2015 and the ball has been through seven different renovations. The version we see today is a massive 11,875 pounds. It's covered in more than 2,500 Waterford crystals and is illuminated by more than 32,000 LED lights.
Its permanent home is atop the One Times Square building. It sits ready and waiting all year long until Dec. 31 rolls around again. And just like clockwork, the ball starts its 141 foot descent at 11:59 p.m. and 60 seconds later, a new year has officially arrived.