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What Are the Parade Markers?

All along Broadway in downtown Manhattan there are historic markers for each of the parades that have taken place over the years. These plaques are inlaid into the actual sidewalks on either side of New York’s most famous avenue: Broadway. The first parade took place in October 1886, and the most recent in July 2015.

The Downtown Alliance of Lower Manhattan presents Canyon of Heroes, an app exploring the history of ticker-tape parades in Lower Manhattan. The granite panels found on Broadway commemorate the New York City ticker-tape parades. They can be found up and down Broadway from The Battery to City Hall. This celebrated route is called the Canyon of Heroes. This app allows you to browse by era, by category, or via map to learn about the many heroes honored on this historic stretch of Broadway.

Ticker Tape History

Ticker tape was used in the ticker tape machines to relay stock market prices. Every office in Wall Street had a few of these machines. When the Statue of Liberty was unveiled in October 1886, the celebration parade went up Broadway in Lower Manhattan. Many of the offices along Broadway were filled with stock brokers. As the parade passed underneath their windows, they ripped some of the ticker tape off and threw it out their windows onto the parade. It came down from the buildings like confetti. The ticker tape parade was born.

What is a Ticker Machine?

Ticker machines were used to communicate stock prices from 1867 until around the 1970s, when they were phased out. They operated over a period of 100 years on Wall Street and around the world. The style of these machines developed and changed frequently. By the 1930s, the styling was updated with the then-popular art deco style. In the 1930s, architecture, automobiles, locomotives and appliances all sported the art deco style. The utilitarian stock ticker machine took on the design sensibilities of the era. By the 1960s, the machine age had dawned. Many small machines devolved in a somewhat less attractive and basic style. The machine pictured above from the 1960s typifies design of the decade.
These old machines were once the lifeblood of Wall Street, but they have now been relegated to back rooms and museums. What was once an essential machine that drove Wall Street has been replaced by the computer, where an endless array of trading data is available to anyone, at any time, in an instant. Let us not forget our humble origins and the beauty of the antique ticker machine!

Ticker Tape Parades

The mayor of New York City gets to decide who to honor with a ticker tape parade. For the most part, ticker tape parades are held to celebrate important events, such at the first landing on the moon, the end of World War II or visiting dignitaries. In the 1950s, these parades were particularly commonplace. In 1951 and 1962, there were 9 parades each year. 1949, 1954 and 1959 each boasted 8 parades. Sometimes parades were separated by as few as 3 or 4 days! Here is a great video of a 1962 ticker tape parade honoring astronaut John Glenn:

Modern Parades

The ticker tape machine was replaced decades ago with the digital stock ticker. The old machines, along with their tape, are now extremely rare. Although we still hold the parades on Broadway, spectators at modern parades no longer have access to large quantities of the ticker tape. A few resourceful people in offices along Broadway find confetti to throw onto the parade. Mostly, however, the crowds throw toilet paper rolls and newspapers.

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