My plan for this Independence Day involves hot dogs, hanging out on my friend’s balcony, and watching the fireworks on the East River. I think it’s a pretty good way to spend my day, but New Yorkers have been celebrating with parades, beaches and parties since we pulled down that statue of King George.

Some celebrated with parades, like these firemen in Hempstead, NY.

Elizabeth Ransom Photograph Collection. Fire engine on parade, Hempstead, N.Y., July 4, 1891. Hook and Ladder, Hose and Steamer Company’s house on Fulton Street. New-York Historical Society Library

Some read comic books about The Yellow Kid, created by Richard F. Outcault.

Comic book, 1897. Gift of Bella C. Landauer, New-York Historical Society

Some, like Jean Lussier,  went over Niagara Falls in a rubber ball. Lussier, originally from Quebec and living in Niagara Falls, New York, challenged the Falls on Independence Day in 1928. This machinist’s successful trip was in a self designed, 1.8 metre (six foot) rubber ball lined with rubber tubes filled with oxygen. On July 4, 1928, after taking some hard knocks in the upper rapids, it skipped perfectly over the Falls. One hour later, Lussier stepped ashore below the Falls unharmed.

Some played castanetes, like these used during the Centennial celebration on July 4, 1876.

Centennial Castanets, ca. 1876. New-York Historical society, Gift of Dr. Sydney H. Carney, Jr.

So remember your forefathers this Independence Day!

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