- One Times Square is one of the most iconic buildings in America and among the most expensive real estate in the world.
- On New Year’s Eve, about one million people gather around it while another billion watch it on TV as the New Year’s Eve ball drops on its metal roof deck.
- But for the other 364 days of the year, One Times Square is a relatively quiet place. The 23-story building sits almost completely empty, save for the Walgreens downstairs and the only other occupant, the New Year’s Eve Headquarters on the 22nd floor.
- Perhaps one of the most unique features about One Times Square, apart from the New Year’s Eve ball, is that it doesn’t really need tenants. The building’s billboards have generated more than $US23 million a year and are among the most lucrative public advertisements in the world.
- We recently took a tour of the building and got an up-close look at the mesmerising crystal New Year’s Eve ball that’s covered in coloured lights.
- When I stepped inside the building, I was thrilled to feel like I was taking a step back in time, especially when I got to see the old New York Times headquarters.
- It also felt slightly eerie walking around a landmark that’s filled with little more than remnants of past tenants, while Times Square, New York City’s busiest neighbourhood, was still bustling outside.
- Take a look inside.
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This is the New Year’s Eve ball in Times Square, New York — there’s a good chance you’re one of the billion people who watch it drop on New Year’s Eve.
Source: Times Square
It sits on top of One Times Square patiently waiting 364 days each year for its moment of late December glory.
In addition to the billion people who watch it on TV each year, about a million people gather around One Times Square to watch this crystal ball drop each year.
Source: USA Today
Celebrating the New Year with the Times Square ball-drop is an iconic American tradition that’s more than 100 years old.
Source: National Geographic
And the ads on the landmark are seen by more than one billion people worldwide, making the ad space on the building worth quite a bit. The building generates about $US23 million a year from its signage.
Source: Business Insider
But for the rest of the year, the building is mostly empty, aside from the Walgreens on the ground floor and the New Year’s Eve headquarters on the 22nd floor.
And walking around the mostly-empty building that’s rich with history while people hurry around outside eerily made it feel like time was standing still inside One Times Square.
The building is mostly empty because it would require a lot of work and expense to bring it up to current building codes …
… and the building’s small floor plate makes it difficult to utilise, according to representatives of the building’s owner, Jamestown Properties.
Source: Atlas Obscura
Aside from being used as storage space in some areas …
… most floors of the building aren’t being used.
We quickly saw how much work would go into renovating the interior. Exposed steel can be seen on pillars on some floors …
… giving them an eerie look.
These are the barest bones of an exit sign that I have ever seen.
And some parts of the ceiling appeared to be slowly crumbling away.
Even though parts of the building could use some work …
… I was still able to appreciate the building’s history and imagine the people who used to occupy it.
This wall on the seventh floor of the building was painted by artist Domingo Zapata, who painted the mural that is currently displayed on the exterior of the building and used this space to practice his art.
Long before then, another floor was home to a restaurant …
… while this section of the floor was used as a bar.
This counter where bartenders slung their drinks …
… is still intact with colourful tiling.
On this floor, you can also imagine the hustle and bustle inside the former New York Times newsroom. The building was built originally to serve as the newspaper’s headquarters.
Before the New York Times moved in, this area of New York was referred to as “Long Acre Square” after a carriage district in London, England.
But when the building was completed in 1904, it was named the Times building for its function as the New York Times headquarters.
And the square was then renamed to reflect the news organisation’s presence in the neighbourhood.
Throughout the 20th century, Times Square gained more popularity thanks to new subway lines …
… and New York Times owner Adolph Orchs, who found ways to generate crowds year-round by projecting news-worthy event information on boards on the sides of the building.
Today, Times Square is New York’s most visited tourist attraction. And One Times Square is right in the heart of it.
Source: Business Insider
Looking outside at the bustling streets of Times Square now from the windows of this quiet, almost-empty building made me feel like, inside, time was standing still.
But there is one floor that continues to have a function. Floor 22 is home to the New Year’s Eve Headquarters.
This is where people working on all different aspects of the annual New Year’s Eve celebration meet every year to collaborate on the event.
The New York Times put on the first New Year’s Eve celebration on the eve of 1905 using fireworks and dynamite.
The celebration was for the new year, but it was also a way for the Times to let everyone know about their new location.
The celebration was instantly iconic, and two years later when fireworks were banned, New York found a way to keep celebrating with the New Year’s Eve ball.
The first New Year’s Eve ball weighed 700 pounds and contained 100 25-watt light bulbs. It first dropped on the building’s roof deck in 1907.
While visiting the New Year’s Eve headquarters, we got to see up close what the ball is made of. Waterford Crystal makes the New Year’s Eve ball out of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles of various sizes.
Source: Times Square
After exploring the headquarters, we headed to the rooftop to see the ball itself. The rooftop provided views of Times Square, too …
… but the metal roof deck wasn’t as glamorous as I imagined it to be.
I was definitely a bit spooked by the flooring on the roof and that I could see the floor below …
… but I forgot about all of that the moment I got to see the ball up close. It was mesmerising.
With 672 LED modules and the ability to produce 16 million vibrant colours and billions of patterns, the ball creates a kaleidoscopic effect on top of Times Square.
Source: Times Square
While One Times Square’s exterior glitters with the promise of new things, inside I was delighted to find a time capsule of New York’s iconic past.
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