Lady Liberty and the First Known use of Ticker-tape in A Parade

ticker-tape-parade-statue-liberty

A Brief History

On October 29, 1886, the first recorded use of ticker-tape was noted during the parade for the dedication of the Statue of Liberty.

Digging Deeper

As a native of Northeast Ohio for my entire life (24 years and counting), to my knowledge the closest thing to a major celebration that the city has had in the past ten years was probably when the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals in 2007. Reams of flashy confetti rained down upon screaming fans in Quicken Loans Arena as the Cleveland Cavaliers were crowned champions of the eastern conference. Although the celebration was short-lived, circles of sports fans continue to dream about the day that one of Cleveland’s sports teams will celebrate winning a major championship. Occasionally, fans conjure images of the celebration of the future triumph, which would last for days with people joyously singing songs of praise. There would be miles and miles of confetti up and down the roads. Without confetti, the fantasy would be incomplete.

Among the many things that the city of New York is known for, the use of ticker tape during major celebrations is probably one of those things that are taken for granted, even though it is perhaps one of the most visible and messy. The day was October 29, 1886. Citizens cluttered the streets and sidewalks of New York City while braving the bitter cold drizzle that dripped down from the sky. National banners waved from windows above while people peered down, watching as the rather dull procession proceeded down Fifty-Fifth Street, drudgingly marching along and at times making stops due to the mass congestion of people clogging the streets. The citizens stayed as cheerful as they could in such conditions, but the weather was testing their conduct. Then, the leading marching band blared out a tune and was accompanied by the click-clack of the naval and army brigades. The crowds were jolted with energy. Little children slithered their way through small gaps that allowed them to follow the procession, testing the patience of police officers who wielded clubs and hinted to the crowd to not get too wild. The parade grew larger as it moved. At one point, the crowds became so large that their overwhelming physical presence threatened to break down a wall that was guarding an area of excavation near Broadway.

Luckily, a courageous Irish fellow was able to prevent the pending disaster by warning the crowds. In order to make sure that the streets did not become too congested, the parade broke-off into smaller detachments. One of these detachments proceeded down Wall Street, which largely went about its business, though “pretty country cousins” and many strangers gaped in wonder as the detachment marched down the street. Finally, according to our New York Times reporter, “All this display was an inspiration to so many imps of office boys, who, from a hundred windows began to unreel the spools of tape that record the fateful message of the ‘ticker….’ Every window appeared to be a paper mill spouting out squirming lines of tape. Such was Wall-Street’s novel celebration.”

Historical Evidence

Youtube has plenty of videos that capture the use of ticker tape during celebrations, which include New York City’s welcoming of General Douglas MacArthur, astronaut John Glenn, and troops from the Desert Storm War in 1991. In addition, Time magazine’s Laura Fitzpatrick wrote an excellent article “Brief History: Ticker-Tape Parades” about the history of ticker-tape parades on November 6th, 2009; this article is available online. For more information about the parade and access to a contemporary account, please visit www.nytimes.org and search for “The Sights and Sightseers.”  For this fact and others, see also Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Plunges into History Again.

You may like to read this book to learn other cool historical facts


Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Plunges into History Again (Paperback)

By (author): Bathroom Readers' Hysterical Society

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Joseph Roskos

Joseph Roskos is currently pursuing a MA degree in History at John Carroll University as a graduate assistant with the intention of eventually earning a doctorate. His academic interests revolve around the intersections of race, gender, and class in popular culture, particularly focusing on U.S. social and cultural history after World War II.

  • Mallory M

    I have never seen this statue

  • Breann G.

    I have not seen the statue either.

  • Shelby R.

    I have not seen the statue either.

  • Tyler Cates

    I have not seen the statue.

  • Lynnette B.

    I have not seen the Statue of Liberty in person, but I did see it from an airplane once.

  • Lynnette B.

    I have not seen the statue in person, but I have seen it from an airplane.

  • T Goff

    I have seen her. It is quite impressive and, believe it or not, it was quite a moving experience kind of like viewing Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon.

  • Brooke K.

    I have not seen the Statue of Liberty, but I definitely hope to someday!

  • Brent

    I have not seen the Statue of Liberty yet but I hope to this upcoming summer.

  • Karen Clift

    yes I have seen Lady Liberty from an airplane view. I also watched a program on the history channel about the Statue of Liberty being a satanic symbol. Weird!!

  • CLM

    No I have not seen the Statue of Liberty. Maybe I will see it some day.

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  • Emily Kaiser

    I saw the Statue of Liberty from afar–we went on a ferry ride past her, and that’s as close as I’ve gotten.

  • K^2

    I have seen the Statue of Liberty. We visited New York 2 months after 9/11, no one was allowed to walk inside but I was able to still see her.

  • LS

    I have never seen the Statue of Liberty, only on tv

  • J B

    I have never seen the statue of liberty, in fact, I have never seen the east coast, as I am from Colorado

  • T Harvey

    I have never been to New York and I have never saw the Statue of Liberty. I think that it would be awesome to see but personally, at this point in life, I have never saw it.

  • A.Dunn

    I have never seen the statue of liberty, only on T.V and in brochures. I hope to one day see it.

  • Ethan R.

    I’ve never been to the Big Apple either. It’s definitely on my top list of places to visit though.

  • karin

    Karin, never been to New York city but would like to visit Ellis island and the statue.

  • RSiburt

    I’ve never been to the city, but I’m making plans to go in the next couple of years. I’ve heard that when the ticker-tape comes out it is quite a spectacle to behold. Can’t wait to see it.

  • Cbierman

    I have only been to the smaller parts of NY (ski resorts, small towns/cities, mainstream hotels for events). I have yet to go to NYC and take in the city. A good friend of mine want me to go there with him and eventually get a penthouse over looking the city (he can dream right, and he might get it cause he is tenuous). It seems to me, it is an American Icon on all grounds from holidays to sports to history.

  • Andrea O.

    I have never seen the statue in person.

  • HB

    I have never seen the statue in person, although it would be pretty cool to do so.

  • Cody B

    I have not been to New York City to see the statue, however I know a few people who have and say it is amazing.

  • Garrett Marino

    I have never seen the statue in person, but it would definitely be cool to be able to one day.

  • Amber J

    I have never seen the statue in person, however it could be something I would like to go see maybe one day.