New York's Times Square erupted with fireworks and cheers at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday as thousands of hardy merrymakers braved pouring rain and watched the glowing New Year's Eve ball complete its midnight descent to mark the start of 2019.
Giant ball dropping tradition
The tradition of watching a giant ball drop from a pole on top of the narrow building at the head of Times Square in midtown Manhattan began in 1907.
The ball in current use - a glittering, LED-studded sphere made by Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting - made its debut in 2008.
Tribute to journalists and press freedom
Injecting a sombre note into the festivities, the Times Square Alliance, the business association that organises the event, paid a special tribute to freedom of the press, after a year in which journalists came under attack around the world, including in the United States.
Sharp screening done by NYPD
As in years past, the New York Police Department screened people entering the corrals, deployed sharpshooters on rooftops and used radiation detectors throughout the event
It also had planned to use an aerial drone for the first time to monitor the crowds but cancelled the effort on Monday evening given the wind and rain.
Plastic ponchos instead of umbrellas
Umbrellas were banned as part of the tight security plan, reflecting concern over the possibility of random attacks.
Plastic ponchos were allowed, with street vendors selling them for $5 on nearby avenues
Visitors not limited to New Yorkers
Belying the idea that New Yorkers themselves eschew the Times Square festivities, Eskie Garcia, a 59-year-old city worker living in Brooklyn, said she has come every year for about a decade.
Visitors had begun gathering inside penned-off enclosures in the morning, starting an hours-long marathon of standing in one place, with no access to public restrooms.