Ryan Seacrest will host the countdown show from Times Square, with Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Neon Trees, Flo Rida and Pitbull among the musical guests. Seacrest hosted the past few years with Clark making short appearances; a stroke had diminished Clark's communications skills.
Security in Times Square was tight.
Along with an army of uniformed officers, police were using barriers to prevent overcrowding and for checkpoints to inspect vehicles, enforce a ban on alcohol and check handbags.
Plainclothes officers were assigned to blend into the crowd.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly predicted that Times Square would be the "safest place in the world on New Year's Eve."
Elvis Rivera of Manhattan was among the early revelers in Times Square.
He wasn't planning to ring in the new year there but came by to take pictures.
How did he feel about the end of 2012?
"Relieved," Rivera said, adding that there had been a death and job losses in his family this year.
His hopes for 2013?
"A better life" — and more money, he said.