Posts Tagged ‘July Fourth’

A “glorious display of pageantry” on Fifth Avenue

June 29, 2020

Imagine if Fifth Avenue today was decked out in American flags as it was on July 4, 1916—with the Stars and Stripes flying from the roofs and facades of so many buildings.

Impressionist painter Childe Hassam captured this scene, likely near his longtime studio at 95 Fifth Avenue at 17th Street.

Massachusetts-born Hassam, a successful and accomplished artist in his era, gave the painting an illustrious name: “The Fourth of July, 1916 (The Greatest Display of the American Flag Ever Seen in New York, Climax of the Preparedness Parade in May).”

The painting demonstrates how “New Yorkers rallied with patriotic fervor to support the ‘preparedness movement’ in anticipation of the nation’s inevitable entry into the Great War in Europe,” states the New-York Historical Society, which was gifted the painting in 2016.

“Advocates of the preparedness cause staged parades in cities all over the country from 1914 until 1916. One such parade in May 1916―up Broadway and Fifth Avenue, led by an enormous, 95-foot flag and lasting over 11 hours―inspired Hassam to begin working on a series of works, which he painted over the course of three years from 1916 to 1918.”

Hassam supported the US entry into the war; he was a francophile who studied and lived in Paris, like many of his contemporaries.

[Above left, “The Avenue in the Rain,” 1917; at right, “Flags on the Waldorf,” 1916]

A grander parade on July 4, 1916 inspired “The Fourth of July, 1916,” described by the New-York Historical Society as a “glorious display of pageantry.”

Hassam ultimately completed about 30 works in his flags series, depicting the US flag on other city buildings and on Allies Day in May 1917 (above).

If you like his flags, you must see his evocative streetscapes that capture the beauty and poetry on day-to-day life in our metropolis.

The Fourth of July beer parade

July 2, 2008

While the rest of the city celebrated Independence Day 1921 by heading to Coney Island or shooting off fireworks, 14,000 anti-prohibition activists gathered at Washington Square for a “demonstration for wine, beer, and personal liberty,” according to the next day’s New York Times.

“Braving a broiling sun,” they marched to 60th Street to protest the 18th Amendment, which had gone into effect in 1920. “‘How Dry I Am’ and ‘Hail Hail the Gang’s All Here,’ appropriately enough, were the popular marching tunes of the afternoon,” the Times adds.

An earlier Times article about the impending “wet” parade predicted 20,000 women would attend, though that number fell far short, as most of the marchers were guys.

As unpopular as prohibition was, it took 12 more years of speakeasy raids and booze being dumped into sewers for it to be repealed. Here, a crime against beer in lower Manhattan: