Photo courtesy of PBS
On this day in 1927, the city of New York honored famed aviator Charles “Lucky Lindy” Lindbergh with a ticker-tape parade to celebrate his May 21st flight in the Spirit of St. Louis, the first solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean. At just 25 years old, Lindbergh flew nonstop from New York to Paris, and according to the New York Times, an estimated four million people attended the ticker-tape parade throughout the city to celebrate his journey.
Lindbergh first learned to fly while serving in the Army. He was a U.S. Mail pilot when New York hotelier Raymond Orteig, who owned the Lafayette and Brevoort Hotels in Manhattan, announced a $25,000 prize for the first person to fly nonstop from either New York to Paris, or Paris to New York. Orteig first proposed his transatlantic flight challenge in 1919 but did not receive his first serious competitors until 1926. A group of St. Louis businessmen funded Lindbergh’s single-engine plane. He first tested the plane, called the Spirit of St. Louis, with a flight from San Diego to New York. By the time Lindbergh made his flight, six other competitors had died trying.
When his plane touched down in Paris, Lindbergh was met by a crowd of 100,000 people who ran toward his plane at Le Bourget Airfield. While that was an impressive welcoming, New Yorkers took it further. He wrote in an article for the Times: “People told me the New York reception would be the biggest of all, but I had no idea it was going to be so much more overwhelming than all the others…All I can say is that the welcome was wonderful, wonderful.”
Ticker-tape parades have been a tradition in New York City for decades. Its name comes from the one-inch-wide ribbon of paper printed from a machine called a ticker that printed stock quotes transmitted via telegraph. The first parade was held in 1886 in honor of the Statue of Liberty. Over the past 130 years, there have been 205 ticker-tape parades, honoring people like Amelia Earhart, Jesse Owens, Douglas MacArthur, sports teams like the Yankees and Giants, and most recently, the U.S. women’s soccer team who won the World Cup championship in the summer of 2015.
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