The first day of the new year also marks the anniversary of several milestone moments in history. See how many of these “firsts on the First” events you know with this short, fun quiz.



1.  What year was the first to be welcomed with a ball dropped in New York’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve?

A: 1901

B: 1908

C: 1928

D: 1931

Answer: B  The first giant ball was made of iron and wood and contained 100 25-watt light bulbs. Jacob Starr, a young immigrant metalworker, built it. His company created most of the ceremonial balls for the rest of the 20th century.


2.   Ellis Island opened its doors to immigrants on Jan. 1, 1892. The very first immigrant processed there was from what country?

A: Germany

B: Italy

C: Ireland

D: Russia

Answer: C  Seventeen-year-old Annie Moore and her two younger brothers had just arrived from County Cork. When Ellis Island closed in 1952, approximately 12 million immigrants had followed in their footsteps.


3.   This landmark officially became a federal penitentiary on January 1, 1934. Where was it located?

A: Atlanta, Georgia

B: Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

C: Alcatraz Island, California

D: Ossining, New York

Answer: C   Nicknamed “The Rock,” its famous inmates included Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. Located on a small island in San Francisco Bay, it closed in 1963.


4.   Already a monarch, Britain’s Queen Victoria got a new royal title on January 1, 1877, when she was officially proclaimed what?

A. Defender of the Faith

B: Queen of Canada

C: Empress of India

D: Sovereign of Ireland

Answer: C   India had been under British government control for nearly two decades. Parliament had passed a measure eight months earlier, creating the title to cement the nation to the British Empire. While Victoria spent a quiet New Year’s Day at Windsor Castle, thousands of Indians participated in a lavish ceremony in Delhi.


5.  In a major public health first in the United States, what took effect on January 1, 1971?

A: Minors could not buy beer

B: Marijuana was declared an illegal substance

C: Childhood vaccinations became mandatory

D: Cigarette commercials were banned on TV and radio

Answer: D   Legislation authorizing the ban had been signed into law on April 1, 1970, by President Richard Nixon, who occasionally smoked a cigar with White House guests.


6.  On January 1, 1902, a New Year’s Day tradition commenced that continues to this day. What was it?

A: The Polar Plunge

B: Chicago’s New Year’s Day Parade

C: The Winter Olympic Games

D: The Rose Bowl

Answer: D   Originally called the “Tournament East-West Game,” some 8,500 people showed up to watch Michigan shut out Stanford 49-0.