Parade in 1911. Image via Flickr by The Library of Congress.
It seems that New Yorkers still celebrate the 4th of July similarly to how they did a century or two ago: by gazing at firework spectaculars, attending parades, and basking on the beach. Philadelphia started the tradition of lighting up the night sky with fireworks back in 1777, on the one year anniversary of the ratification of the Declaration of Independence. But the celebration didn’t catch on immediately, as Congress didn’t establish July 4 as a holiday until 1870 and it wasn’t a paid holiday until 1938. Though Harper’s Magazine depicted the holiday as a street festival sans fireworks in 1834, New York eventually adopted the tradition and by 1877, New Yorkers enjoyed watching firework displays over the bridges. For the past 38 years, New Yorkers have been spoiled by the Macy’s 4th of July firework extravaganza. Luckily, they are also televised for all of America to watch.
Broadway and Cortlandt St, 1834. Image via The Library of Congress
Union Square, 1876. Image via The Library of Congress.
A classic way of celebrating America’s Independence is attending a patriotic parade, complete with soldiers, marching bands, and plenty of stars and stripes.
Parade, 1918. Image via The Library of Congress.
Parade on Front St, 1916. Image via The Library of Congress.
Instead of waving flags, some New Yorkers enjoy their day off on the hot sand. Back in the day, a myriad of young men, ladies and families, would flock to one of the city’s beaches sporting their bathing suits for July 4th. Afterall, what better place to relax from the fast-paced city life? Even today, the beach remains a popular spot for the day of revelry.