Long before throngs filled Times Square to watch the ball drop, the tolling bells of Lower Manhattan's Trinity Church rang in the New Year. Huge crowds would gather around the tower in the dark winter night of New Year's Eve to observe one of the City's greatest 19th century traditions.
In 1894, believing that the din from the crowds had grown too great, Rector Dr. Morgan Dix ordered that the bell-ringing cease, a decision that met with vigorous protests from citizens and the newspapers. A year later the bells returned, but the single silent year was a sign of things to come. When the New York Times moved from Lower Manhattan to Times Square in 1904, the New Year's Eve celebration moved with it and has remained there ever since.