On a rainy day on October 28, 1886, New York City was celebrating the unveiling of French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty with a lavish parade. While children had the day off from school and stores and offices were closed, the city’s Wall Street traders were the only ones in the city working. Forced to watch the celebration from their office windows, the businessmen joined in in the parade the only way they could: with reams of confetti-like ticker tape, which were used in stock ticker machines to print financial data. As the parade continued down Wall Street and passed by the New York Stock Exchange, the traders opened their windows and threw firstfuls of shredded white paper onto the streets to celebrate the new statue, giving birth to the ticker-tape parade.
Ticker-tape parades were soon used to celebrate all different kinds of events in the city, from President Teddy Roosevelt’s return from his 1910 African safari to Albert Einstein’s first visit to the United States. Though some rallied for their discontinuation in the early 20th century due to the disturbances they created and for their tiresome overuse, the parades remained the main form of public celebration in the city for decades.
New York saw its most extravagant ticker-tape parade on Victory Over Japan Day on August 14, 1945. To celebrate Japan’s surrender after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, New Yorkers filled the air with confetti, hat trimmings, and feathers. That night, over 3,000 street sweepers were sent out to clean up, only to have their work undone when the celebrations continued the next morning. In all, celebrators flung over 5,000 tons of material onto the city streets.
As the stock exchange switched to electronic boards for their financial information in the 1960s, ticker-tape parades began to dwindle, with only a handful held in the 1970s and 1980s. Though they saw a brief resurgence in the 1990s, the parades were never as popular as they were at their inception. In recent years, ticker-tape parades have been few and far between. Today, machine-shredded waste paper has replaced obsolete ticker-tape reams.
|1886||New York hosts the first ever ticker-tape parade|
|1921||Parade is thrown in honor of Albert Einstein's first visit to the US|
|1945||Extravagant V-J Day ticker-tape parade thrown|