Celebrating New Year’s in old New York

The whole Times Square-ball drop thing didn’t start until 1904. Before then, the hip place to celebrate the holiday was at the base of Trinity Church, on Wall Street and Broadway.

Huge crowds would show—up to 15,000 people some years—looking to see and be seen as well as to hear the tolling of the bells to welcome the New Year.

The second Trinity Church, 1788-1841. The original burned down in the Great Fire of 1776, and the third one still remains there today.

And just like the all-night party in Times Square, the Trinity Church celebration attracted a bridge and tunnel group of revelers, as this New York Times article from 1897 reports: 

“The crowds came from every section of the city, and among the thousands, who cheered or tooted tin horns, as the chimes were rung out on the night, were many from New Jersey, Long Island, and even Staten Island.”

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5 Responses to “Celebrating New Year’s in old New York”

  1. Nabe News: December 30 - Bowery Boogie | A Lower East Side Chronicle Says:

    […] Celebrating New Year’s Eve in old New York.  The ball-drop didn’t start in Times Square until 1904.  Before that, the place to be on the cusp of a new year was at the Trinity Church on Wall Street. “And just like Times Square, it attracted a bridge and tunnel group of revelers.” [Ephemeral NY] […]

  2. Kay Says:

    LOL at the fact that even in 1897 Staten Island was still held as the bastard of NYC – “………..and even Staten Island.”

  3. PizzaBagel Says:

    Prior to its consolidation in 1898, New York City consisted of just Manhattan and the Bronx. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) Also, I believe that Queens was part of Nassau County at one time. (Up to the time of NYC’s consolidation?)

  4. All the ways New York celebrated the New Year | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] In the 19th century, New Year’s calling persisted, and bells would ring at midnight on January 1 at Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan. […]

  5. The Top 10 Secrets of the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball Drop in NYC | Untapped Cities Says:

    […] Before Times Square took over, the area near the base of Trinity Church was filled with celebratory noise and large crowds on New Year’s Eve. The church, located at 75 Broadway in lower Manhattan, has a tall and narrow steeple that forces the sounds of its bells outward, rather than inwards and into the sanctuary. Because of this, the bells were rung at midnight to announce the new year. During some years, as many as 15,000 people would show up. […]

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