Collection on Civic Events, 1796-2011 (bulk – 1875-1925)

Extent: 8 Boxes
The Museum of the City of New York collection on civic events contains materials from public and private events taking place in New York City between the years of 1796-2011. The materials in this collection are related to anniversaries, events honoring people, fairs, parades, holidays, openings, and groundbreakings.

Historical Note
The 19th and 20th centuries were a time of change in New York City with the rapid development of industry, city infrastructure, and appearance of new technologies. New Yorkers were proud of their city’s emergence as a national and world leader in these areas, and held many events and celebrations to recognize these achievements. The city sought to position itself as an established city with a history, hosting memorials and anniversary celebrations. Notable events from the 19th and 20th century include the erection of the Statue of Liberty in 1886; the Hudson- Fulton Celebration, a joint commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River and the 100th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s first successful commercial application of the paddle steamer, in 1909; and the return of Admiral George Dewey from the Spanish American War in 1899. This collection documents the addition of annual parades and celebrations into New York life, with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade; Evacuation Day celebrations, marking November 25, 1783, when the last British troops vacated New York City; and the annual Police Parade..

Scope and Content
The Museum of the City of New York’s Collection on Civic Events consists of a variety of materials spanning 1796 to 2011, with the bulk of the materials dating to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This was a period of great growth and change for New York City; city of Brooklyn, Queens County, the East Bronx, and Staten Island merged with the City of New York in 1898 in what was known as the Consolidation of Greater New York; the city was building new infrastructure such as bridges, tunnels, and subways. This collection contains a wealth of information on how these events were recognized, remembered, and celebrated. Through this collection one can see New York embracing innovation while honoring the past, displaying the dynamic and short, yet rich, history of the city. The primary formats of material represented in the collection are tickets, programs, menus, invitations, and post cards. Other notable formats include press kits, souvenirs, and song books. Some of the most largely represented civic events in the collection include the Hudson-Fulton celebration of 1909, ongoing anniversaries of George Washington’s birth and presidency, memorials for Ulysses S. Grant in 1885, the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883.

Series I: Historic Events and Holidays, 1862-2000
Sub-Series I.A: Historic Events and Holidays, 1862-2000
Sub-Series I.B: Hudson-Fulton Celebration, 1909
Series II: Events Honoring People, 1796-2011
Sub-Series II.A: Events Honoring People, 1824-2011
Sub-Series II.B: Events Honoring George Washington, 1796-1989
Series III: Openings and Groundbreakings, 1825-1983
Sub-Series III.A: Openings and Groundbreakings, 1825-1980
Sub-Series III.B: Bridge Openings and Anniversaries, 1883-1983
Series IV: Fairs and Celebrations, 1844-1966

Click here to view the full finding aid for the Collection on civic events.

The Museum is grateful for the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities; this collection was reprocessed as part of the NEH project Illuminating New York City History through Material Culture: A Proposal to Process, Catalog, Digitize, and Rehouse the Ephemera Collections of the Museum of the City of New York.  Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this finding aid do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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