Through the Years: Celebrating the Fourth

At the NJ Digital Newspaper Project office, we enjoy time traveling through the newspapers to see what was happening in New Jersey on or around a certain date. We recently took one of these excursions to see how the Fourth of July was celebrated and covered through the years.

150 years ago: July 1869

The West-Jersey Pioneer for July 2, 1869 indicated that the local celebration of the Fourth left something to be desired.

“Saturday July 3d, the National Festival of our Independence will be celebrated in various forms in the different towns and villages round about us. In Bridgeton so far as we have learned nothing whatever is to be done by the authorities, and the patriotism of the city will be allowed to develop itself as best it may. Not even a pic-nic, so far as we have heard is to grace the occasion, not an oration from any of our public men.”

Nearby, in Pleasant Grove, was another story:

Advertisement for Fourth of July celebration.
Dinner for 60 cents!

125 years ago: July 1894

Headline describing events of Fourth of July Celebration. "A Glorious Day, Patriotic Observance of the Fourth Aided by the Bright Weather. Scores of Celebrations. Junior American Mechanics Have a Fine Parade and Outing--Catholics and the Flag. Fireworks and Salutes. The Bang and Fizz Was Kept Up from Midnight to Midnight--Many Bad Accidents.
From the Jersey City News, July 5, 1894

The Catholics and the Flag subhead raised eyebrows in the office and seems to refer to some church activities along with the Catholic Club’s members going “out for a run on Staten Island.” The “Many Bad Accidents” was explained further in the article as well:

“During the day the usual casualties took place, but none were fatal. The number of fires that were extinguished by the firemen was eleven, eight of them being on the Hill and none of them being very serious.”

100 years ago: July 1919

We turn to the Perth Amboy Evening News next and find that the Fourth of July was not marked with large celebrations 100 years ago.

headline "July 4 to be observed tomorrow in quiet way due to Monday's event."
July 3, 1919

The Monday event had been a Welcome Home parade and celebration for Perth Amboy’s men in service. The previous Fourth of July, they’d been serving in the First World War. Images from the celebration show why the town chose not to “compete” with a big Fourth of July celebration.

Images of parade, biplane in sky under text "Scenes in Yesterday's Welcome Home Parade"
Perth Amboy Evening News, July 1, 1919

At the NJ Digital Newspaper office, we wish you a happy Fourth!

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