Pilgrim balloon in 1946. Photo via Macy’s Inc.
There are many famous traditions synonymous with New York City, and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is at the top of that list. The first parade marched down Broadway in the winter of 1924, and in the years since, it’s grown into an event with more than 3.5 million spectators. Though this year’s parade is going to look a bit different, the history behind the festivities and larger-than-life balloons is just as mesmerizing. Ahead, learn all about the parade’s 96 years and see some incredible archival photos.
This way for the full history
New York’s famous 369th (Old 15th) Infantry Regiment arrives home from France. From the National Archives via Wikimedia Commons
By the end of World War II, the Croix de Guerre, France’s highest military honor, would be awarded to the 369th Infantry Regiment. Better known as the Harlem Hellfighters, the regiment was an all-black American unit serving under French command in World War I, and they spent a stunning 191 days at the Front, more than any other American unit. In that time, they never lost a trench to the enemy or a man to capture. Instead, they earned the respect of both allies and enemies, helped introduce Jazz to France, and returned home to a grateful city where hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers turned out to welcome home 3,000 Hellfighter heroes in a victory parade that stretched from 23rd Street and 5th Avenue to 145th Street and Lenox.
The whole history
Portrait of George Washington via Wikimedia, Photo of Chester Alan Arthur via Wikimedia; Photo of Theodore Roosevelt via Wikimedia; Photo of Barack Obama via Wikimedia; Photo of Donald Trump via Wikimedia
New York City’s presidential history runs deep. Our nation’s very first president lived in the inaugural presidential mansion on Cherry Street during the city’s two-year reign as the country’s capital. As the 2020 presidential election finally wraps up, we’re taking a look at this original New York presidential residence, as well as those that followed, including Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Barack Obama, and most recently, Donald Trump.
Where are the presidential homes in NYC?
Suffragists marching, probably in New York City in. New York, 1915. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress
With New Yorkers and the nation showing up to the polls in record numbers this year, it’s hard to imagine a time when being female made this illegal. Nearly 102 years ago to the day, Catherine Ann Smith was among the first women to vote in the state of New York, as the New York Times reminded us. Ms. Smith joined Mary Waver at the front of the line, both cast their ballots in the early hours of November 5th, 1918.
Photos by Daniel Avila/NYC Parks
When the World’s Fair descended upon Flushing Meadows Corona Park in 1964-1965, one of the big attractions was the Unisphere. And leading up to this 140-foot-tall stainless steel globe was the Fountain of the Fairs, a large reflecting pool that acted as an interactive mist garden. Though they were renovated in 2000, the fountains were seriously damaged during Hurricane Sandy and stopped working. However, after a recent $6.8 million upgrade, they are back up and running.
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The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “City Hall Subway Station, New York” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1906.
The Interborough Rapid Transit Subway, or IRT, was the first subway company ever in New York City. The company formed as a response to elevated train lines springing up around the city–it was time to go underground and build a rapid transit railroad to help combat street congestion and assist development in new areas of New York, according to NYCsubway.org. And so 116 years ago, on October 27th, 1904, the first IRT subway line opened with the City Hall station as its showpiece. It’s no overstatement to say that after this date, the city would never be the same. And the day was one to remember, with pure excitement over the impressive feat of moving the city’s transit system underground.
Here’s what you need to know about the day
Photo by Anthony22 via Wikimedia Commons
Did you know the country’s first pet cemetery opened right here in New York, and still to this day is the world’s largest such burial ground? Hartsdale Pet Cemetery was established in 1896 by NYC veterinarian Samuel Johnson (an early promoter of the ASPCA), who provided part of the apple orchard at his Westchester retreat to serve as a burial spot for a client’s dog. Nearly 125 years later, this area is the resting place for more than 80,000 pets, from dogs and cats to reptiles to a lion cub who called the Plaza Hotel home. Known as “The Peaceable Kingdom,” the grounds are also home to a 50-ton above-ground mausoleum for a pair of spaniels and the War Dog Memorial, a post-WWI tribute to military canines that was the first of its kind. Even Diana Ross, George Raft, and Mariah Carey have buried their four-legged friends here.
Find out more about this historic pet cemetery
Pre-election parade for suffrage in NYC, in which 20,000 women marched. 1915. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress
This August marked the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave some women the right to vote. In New York, a hotbed of suffragist activity in the mid 19th- and early 20th-century, women won the vote a few years earlier in 1917. While New York women were on the frontlines of the suffrage movement early on, one event served as a major turning point in winning the vote. On October 23, 1915, tens of thousands of New Yorkers dressed in all white took to Fifth Avenue, marching roughly three miles from Washington Square to 59th Street. It was the largest suffrage parade to date, with city officials at the time estimating between 25,000 and 60,000 participants.
Non-profit Village Preservation has launched a new online platform called Virtual Village, which is part of their larger efforts seeking landmarks protections for the “South of Union Square” area, where Greenwich Village meets the East Village. The interactive online tool offers 36 free, guided walking tours of the neighborhood, ranging from architectural topics like the Cast Iron Tour to cultural topics like the German History Tour to social topics like the Women’s History and LGBTQ Tours.
St. Paul’s Chapel via Flickr cc
Tis the season to voluntarily spook yourself! But if haunted houses and tourist-friendly ghost tours are not your thing, New York’s bustling burrows are home to a slew of the more naturally born spirits. You’ll find Dracula’s extended family on 23rd Street, a host of oracles on Orchard Street, and the site of the cruel crime that led to the nation’s first recorded murder trial on Spring Street. If you’re searching for a necropolis in the metropolis, here are ten of the best sites in New York to spot specters.
See all the haunted haunts here!