Yesterday, the US Women’s National Soccer Team were given the keys to the city by Mayor Bill DeBlasio at New York City Hall and were honored with a ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes along Broadway (all for the second time). Even if you were not on hand to celebrate, you can take in the history of the ticker tape parade any day of the year, just by looking down while walking the sidewalks of Broadway. Full width granite markers show the date of each parade and who it honored. 200 markers were installed by the Downtown Alliance in 2004 as part of a $22 million renovation of the Canyon of Heroes, and hopefully more will be added to account for the fifteen years of parades that have passed since. A biography published by the Downtown Alliance goes through the history of 206 parades and their honorees.

The term ticker tape comes from the paper strips that once showed the prices of stocks, and were thrown out of the windows of the buildings along Broadway during parades. But even more was actually thrown out the windows: Laurie Gwen Shapiro writes in The Stowaway: A Young Man’s Extraordinary Adventure to Antarctica which covers some of Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s three ticker tape parades that “torn telephone directories, and adding-machine tape thrown” were also thrown from the windows above. [Side note: Admiral Byrd holds the record for the most parades]. Ticker tape was such a part of contemporary culture that one of the grotesques inside the Woolworth Building lobby is holding a strip. At yesterday’s parade, most of the “ticker tapes” were actually legal documents. The red and white ticker was blasted just for the ceremony at City Hall that followed the parade.

1945 ticker tape parade for General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright, Commander of Allied Forces in the Phillipines. Photo from Library of Congress.

The confetti before being thrown at City Hall

Legal documents mixed with confetti. Photo by Erica Price Photography

The first ever official ticker tape parade to honor a person took place in 1889 for Admiral George Dewey, who is generally attributed as the hero of the Battle of Manila Bay in the Spanish American war. He was also given a temporary monumental arch next to Madison Square Park. But the ticker tape parade has its origins during a parade for the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, when pieces of paper were thrown out the windows.

Mayor Bill De Blasio, Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd. Photo by Erica Price Photography

According to Kenneth T. Jackson in The Encyclopedia of New York City, “during the 1920s, it became customary to hail arriving heads of state with a ticker-tape parade.” One of the most famous parades was for Charles Lindbergh in 1927 after his historic trans-Atlantic solo flight in the monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis. The New York Times estimated that four million people were in the crowd to celebrate.

Charles Lindbergh with New York City Mayor James J. Walker. Photo from Library of Congress.

The year before, a ticker-tape parade took place for American Olympic Champion, Gertrude Ederle in 1926, after she became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. She also beat the records of five men who swam the channel before her. In 1928, New York City celebrated several other aviation records: one for Amelia Earhart’s transatlantic flight and a collective one for for Captain Hermann Koehl, Major James Fitzmaurice, and Baron Günther Freiherr von Hünefeld for the longest westward transatlantic flight. Earhart would get another parade in 1932.

The largest flurry of ticker-tape parades took place during the post WWII Cold War era, with 130 parades between 1945 and 1960. Kenneth T. Jackson writes, more than half were for heads of state, “usually at the request of the U.S. Department of State. It’s worth noting, as the New York Daily News did two days ago, that many of the “heroes” honored with parades have later been dishonored: Lindbergh for his anti-semitism and white supremacist theories, and various Fascist and deposed world leaders. According to the Daily News, the Downtown Alliance decided to keep the plaques for those figures: Andy Breslau of the Alliance said, “We advocated that a fuller picture of history was the best solution. In order to take full stock of our city’s history, there’s a need to realize that these parades happened.”

Here are a few more photographs of yesterday’s parade for the women’s soccer team:

Photo by Erica Price Photography

Crystal Dunn, Alexandra Long, and Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan on far right. Photo by Erica Price Photography

Photo by Erica Price Photography

New Yorker, Hudson, who attended the semifinals and final of the World Cup in France with her mother. Photo by Erica Price Photography

Photo by Erica Price Photography

Photo by Erica Price Photography

Mayor Bill De Blasio, and his wife Chirlane McCray, with .  Photo by Erica Price Photography

Carli Lloyd with her teammates, including Megan Rapinoe (front center)Photo by Erica Price Photography

Mayor Bill De Blasio and his wife  Chirlane McCray with coach Jill Ellis. Photo by Erica Price Photography

Photo by Erica Price Photography

Photo by Erica Price Photography

Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of City Hall.