Parades and Funeral Processions on Fifth Avenue Part I

An aspect of Fifth Avenue which the nation at large has not seen is Fifth Avenue as a national parade ground. One of the greatest parades was the Dewey parade in 1899, when the hero of the Spanish American War was tendered a brilliant welcome, and viewed from a stand that faced the Worth Monument the procession in his honor.

Industry and patriotism have, also, received their share of recognition in the impressive processions that have been formed as an exemplification of what united organization can do. Funeral dirges and solemn corteges have cast their pall many times over Fifth Avenue. Some of America's greatest men have been borne between silent masses down the famous thoroughfare to their last resting places. Along it the body of Abraham Lincoln passed between rows of silent, bareheaded people, and was escorted to the Hudson River depot, whence it was taken to Illinois. The remains of Admiral Farragut, of Horace Greeley, of Ulysses S. Grant, of Chester A. Dewey Arthur, and of General Sherman have received the homage of a people Parade massed on Fifth Avenue.

The parade in honor of Admiral Dewey's victory at Manila moved down Fifth Avenue from 59th Street on September 30, 1899, passed under the Dewey Arch, erected in the Admiral's honor at Worth Square, and on to Washington Square.

Major-General Charles F. Roe and staff led the procession, followed by Sousa's Band and the sailors of Dewey's flagship, the Olympia. Then came Admiral Dewey himself, seated beside Mayor Van Wyck in a carriage, at the head of a line of carriages containing Governor Theodore Roosevelt, Rear Admirals Schley and Sampson, General Nelson A. Miles, Senator Chauncey M. Depew, governors, naval officers, and many other prominent men.

After the carriages came West Point Cadets, detachments of United States regulars, New York national guardsmen and naval militia, troops from fourteen other states, Union and Confederate veterans, and veterans of the Spanish War. Admiral Dewey and the Olympia blue jackets received deafening applause, while the crowds packing the sides of the Avenue went wild over Schley, the hero of Santiago Bay, and cheered loudly for Governor Roosevelt. The cheers were silenced for a moment when Admiral Dewey caught sight of his relatives in a stand before the Waldorf-Astoria and, standing, waved his hat to them while they stood and toasted him with upraised glasses.

At 34th Street the Olympia Jackies halted and drew up at the side of the Avenue while the Admiral left his carriage with a party of distinguished officers and entered the reviewing stand that faced the Worth Monument. For four hours the gray-haired hero stood watching the brilliant procession that flowed past him, Sampson on his right and Schley on his left, with Generals Miles and Merritt and a group of naval officers, including Captains Chadwick, Coghlan, Woods, Wildes, Lamberton, and Dyer. Dewey was very punctilious in acknowledging the salutes given him and in saluting the flag, and delayed accepting a bouquet from a girl until he had saluted the Stars and Stripes just then approaching at the head of a regiment. Roosevelt reviewed the New York troops and then hurried back to his rooms in the Fifth Avenue Hotel, greeted on the way with shouts of "Here's to you, Teddy!" and "Long life to the Rough Rider!" The "Fighting Tenth" Pennsylvania Infantry, fresh from the Philippines, received a great ovation.

An incident commented upon at the time was the high price paid for positions of vantage. Stands were built at many places along the Avenue, and seats sold at big prices. One room in a house on the Avenue near 26th Street was hired for the afternoon for $500, and $300 was paid for other rooms on the Avenue having only one window. Speculators offered the owner of one four-story building on the Avenue $3,000 for the use of his windows.

Hudson Fulton Parade

The Hudson-Fulton Celebration of September 25-October 9, 1909, was notable for its beautiful pageants and parades, and for the elaborateness of the decorations on Fifth Avenue and in other parts of the city.

On September 28 a great civic procession that was noteworthy for the number and beauty of its floats, depicting a great variety of historical incidents, moved down Fifth Avenue to Washington Square. The huge reviewing stand was packed with nearly five thousand people, and from it Governor Charles E. Hughes, Vice-President Sherman, Ex-Judge Parker, Rear Admiral le Pord of the French Navy, Admiral von Koester of the German Navy, Rear Admiral Schroeder of the American Navy, and many other notables reviewed the parade.

Nationalities and Floats in the Parade

Ireland held the place of honor in the procession, for the Ancient National Order of Hibernians and other Irish societies headed the long column. Behind them marched Italian organizations and sturdy Polanders, Joats and English, Dutch, Scandinavian, French, Scotch, Bohemian, Hungarian, Syrian, and numberless other societies of many nationalities were mingled with the hundreds of floats in a bewildering riot of color and costume. Tribe after tribe of painted and be feathered warriors of the Order of Redmen escorted the floats depicting Indian scenes; "The Storming of Stony Point," "Washington Taking the Oath of Office," and countless other scenes comprising a veritable panorama of history were unfolded by men and women of many races before the eager eyes of the vast throng lining the Avenue. Loud applause greeted the strangely garbed and oddly mounted Syrians, who by some queer chance followed closely behind the float representing "The Publishing of the State Constitution"; and even an East Indian Rajah would have opened his eyes at the gorgeous costumes of the Hungarians, who "discovered a few combinations that made the aurora borealis look like a Quaker bonnet"!

Mayor McClellan, marching on foot with Herman Ridder, was cheered loudly all along the line. The division of school children was a most interesting feature of the parade. Governor Hughes seemed to be very popular with them, and as they passed the reviewing stand they gave him cheer after cheer while he smilingly bowed his thanks. The sharp bark of college yells winding up with a snap of "Hughes! Sherman!" rang out lustily as the boys from Columbia, New York University, and the College of the City of New York swung with springy tread past the governor's box. All the time that the parade was passing Mr. Hughes stood hat in hand, and his interest and pleasure were very evident as he stared eagerly up the Avenue to see what was coming next and enthusiastically pointed out the interesting floats to Vice-President Sherman.

Parade of the League of American Wheelmen

One of the most picturesque sights that Fifth Avenue has witnessed Parade was the parade of the League of American Wheelmen on May 28, league of 1883. About nine hundred bicyclists were in line, representing some  forty-five different clubs of the League, and an interested and applauding crowd of over ten thousand persons lined the Fifth Avenue sidewalks four and five deep from 16th to 75th Streets to see the procession start.

Two great tents were pitched on 57th Street to shelter the hundreds of machines until the time of the parade, and shortly before two o'clock the members of the League, having taken their bicycles from the tents, began to form in the shade on the Central Park side of Fifth Avenue, the head of the line resting on 60th Street and its rear extending nearly to 80th Street.

Shortly before three o'clock a bugle call rang out, and President N. M. Beckwith of the League rode slowly along the line with his staff from front to rear. Returning to the head of the column at 60th Street, he gave the signal, and with a flourish of bugles the nine hundred bicyclists mounted and got into motion. Riding two abreast, they pedaled slowly around the circle in Central Park at 59th Street and countermarched up the Avenue, while the Seventh Regiment Band struck up a lively march. Six mounted policemen led the way, then came President Beckwith and his staff, followed by pair after pair of uniformed riders. It was a pretty sight as the long line moved noiselessly up Fifth Avenue, with flags and streamers fluttering and the bright sun flashing upon the glittering nickel of the machines and lighting up the multi-colored uniforms of the riders with a blaze of vivid color.

The New York Club headed the procession, every man dressed in Localities gray with a splash of red and black on his chest and cap. The Massachusetts delegation followed, with the Boston Ramblers. The Bay in the State men looked about the smartest of any club in line, in their Parade handsome dark blue uniforms, white caps, and silver buckles, each cyclist wearing a red-and-white carnation in his buttonhole. Then came the New Haven Club in white trousers; Philadelphia in blue-black with a golden line in the cap; Yonkers, all a-flutter with many-colored ribbons; Buckeye in dark green, save for a lonely rider in gray and white; Albany in black relieved by a cherry badge; and other clubs.

After East Bridgewater rode a solitary cyclist a-glitter with flashing badges, and following him the green and gold of Springfield appeared; then the Brunswickers in chocolate-brown and violet and primrose badges; the  Club, with bright yellow plumes waving in the breeze; and Alpha in sage-green livery with claret-hued stockings. The Penna Club was distinguished by its sky-blue insignia; the Capital, by its white caps; while Buffalo bore a black-and-red banner and the Providence men wore blue and gold. Troy flaunted badges of old gold and red, and Kings County was clad in brown.

Following the uniformed clubs pedaled an army of unattached cyclists garbed in all the colors of the rainbow, each according to his fancy. Loud applause greeted the little youngster who, clad in a "Joseph's coat" of many hues, led this motley division. It took the procession over three-quarters of an hour to pass the circle at 59th Street, whence it pedaled up Fifth Avenue to 116th Street, to Seventh Avenue, through Central Park to the West Drive, to 59th Street, back to /2d Street, and to Riverside Drive, where the cyclists dismounted and stacked wheels. They massed themselves upon Mount Tom, and with General Viele, the Park Commissioner, sitting in their front rank, were photographed en masse while the band rendered lively music. This ceremony concluded the afternoon's festivities, and the tired wheelmen broke up to seek rest and clean clothes before attending the banquet held at the Metropolitan Hotel at eight o'clock that evening.


Website: The History
Article Name: Parades and Funeral Processions On Fifth Avenue Part I
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Fifth Avenue Events Printed for The Fifth Avenue Bank of New York 1916 copyright The Fifth Avenue Bank of New York
Time & Date Stamp: