You could make the argument that New York practically invented, or at least modernized, the New Year holiday.
It all started with the early Dutch settlers, who began the tradition of New Year’s calling: going around the colony “calling” on their friends and neighbors to wish them well in the coming year (and indulge in plenty of pipe-smoking and partying too).
In the 19th century, New Year’s calling persisted, and bells would ring at midnight on January 1 at Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan.
By the 20th century, both traditions were replaced with something new: the dropping of an illuminated ball in Times Square starting on December 31, 1907.
Gathering in restaurants and bars became popular, as this photo, dating to 1910-1915, shows. Prohibition would soon put a damper on that.
The down and out weren’t excluded from welcoming the New Year. Here, men dine at a Salvation Army dinner sometime before 1920.
In 1942, some Greenwich Village boys blow horns in front of Max Moscowitz’ clothing store, on Bleecker Street and Sixth Avenue.
In 1956, Times Square was packing in what looks to be a mostly orderly crowd—even then, they must all be from out of town!
Tags: Dutch New Year, New Years celebrations, New Years Eve New York City, New York during World War II, old New York New Year, Times Square ball drop, Times Square New Year's festivities, Times Square New Years