Parades and Funeral Processions on Fifth Avenue Part III


Columbian Naval Parade

Fifth Avenue witnessed an unprecedented spectacle on April 28, Naval 1893, when there marched down it to the blare of bands and the cheers Parade of a great crowd the sailors and marines of ten different nations, 4,000 strong. The occasion was the Columbian Celebration preceding the opening of the World's Fair in Chicago, and the naval forces had been landed from the visiting foreign war-vessels lying in the Hudson River.

It was probably the first time in history that armed forces from so many different nations marched through a city in time of peace. Never before had British, French, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Argentinean, Brazilian, American, and German sailors paraded together.

The parade started from the Hudson River front at 42d Street about eleven o'clock, passed through 42d Street to Fifth Avenue and down the Avenue to Washington Square, where it turned off and marched down Broadway to the City Hall. At the City Hall it was reviewed by the commanding officers of the foreign men-of-war, the governors of several states, the mayor, and other dignitaries.

The sailors were escorted by a body of the United States Engineering Corps, detachments from the Massachusetts and New York Naval reserves, and the First Brigade of the New York National Guard.

Fifth Avenue was packed with thousands of enthusiastically cheering people occupying the sidewalks, windows, roofs, balconies, and the top of the reservoir at \2& Street. From the balcony and windows of the Fifth Avenue Hotel many prominent men witnessed the parade, among them Senators Morrill of Vermont, Gray of Delaware, Gibson of Alabama, and Gorman of Maryland, Ex-Senator Hiscock of New York, Governors Smith of New Hampshire and Brown of Rhode Island, and a number of foreign naval officers.

American marines and Jackie's from the White Squadron, 2,500 strong, led the procession, with the United States Marine Band at their head playing splendid music. Then came the British sailors, fine, husky fellows, with a solemn Billy-goat adorned with a bright red blanket trotting majestically ahead—the mascot of H. M. S. Tartar. Laughter and cheers greeted the goat, and a deafening roar of applause rose from the crowd as the British man-of-war's men swung by with a rolling gait to the tune of "A British Tar is a Roving Blade." The rollicking air and swing of the Britishers caught the throng in an instant. Their sailors wore straw hats, blue uniforms, and yellow leggings, while their marines brought up the rear in a vivid blaze of flaming scarlet.

The blue cross of Russia followed, fluttering over a magnificent looking body of huge men, all over six feet tall, marching in solid squares eight deep and wearing streamers of ribbon on their white caps. The Russians were by far the most imposing-looking men in the parade, and the crowd, impressed by their powerful bearing and disciplined marching, gave them cheer after cheer. Next came the Italians, a striking contrast to the giants of the Czar, small, light, active, marching with quick, nervous tread. They wore straw hats and carried their rifles horizontally. The Germans were mostly young, with fresh, smooth faces. They marched with splendid precision, keeping ponderous step in perfect alignment and time.

The French swung gracefully along with alert, sprightly tread, the gay tricolor waving jauntily over a forest of flashing sword-bayonets and red topknots. Men of many races followed the golden sun of Argentina,—Latin, Saxon, Celt, Mongolian, and Nubian,—and the green banner of Brazil waved over many swarthy, sinewy men of African or Indian blood.

The sailors presented a delightful contrast to the stiffness and rigid pomp seen in military parades. Most of them swung along with an easy, rolling tread, and their loose-fitting shirts and trousers and rakish hats gave free play to their splendid bodies. The stiff marching and tight uniforms of the New York National Guardsmen who paraded with them lost by comparison, and the pale faces and white hands of the citizen soldiers and naval reserve contrasted strongly with the sailors' bronzed coats of sea-tan.

First Parade of the Street Cleaning Department

Before Colonel Waring brought efficiency and neatness into the street cleaning department a parade by its members would probably have been the signal for ridicule. Despite the sorrowful protests of certain aldermen who vehemently claimed that such new-fangled and unheard-of notions as uniforming the street cleaners would only dispirit and utterly degrade them in the eyes of their fellows, the spirit of progress won the day in our city, and made possible—without a chance for the satirists and jokers to get in their jabs, that hitherto undreamed-of marvel—a parade of the street cleaning department.

It occurred May 26, 1896, and for an hour and a half sturdy men neatly uniformed in white coats passed down Fifth Avenue, with carts and sprinklers creaking and rumbling and Colonel Waring riding proudly at the column's head. A reviewing stand had been built upon the slope of the reservoir at 42d Street, and from this the Mayor, city officials, and many prominent citizens witnessed the parade, while the crowd lining the Avenue applauded lustily. Prizes were offered for the men, carts, and horses making the best appearance, and the display was well calculated to fire the New Yorker's heart with civic pride.

The Sound Money Parade

A hundred thousand citizens from all callings and walks of life marched, October 31, 1896, up Fifth Avenue to show their belief in the sound money principles advocated by the Republicans and sound money Democrats. In size the parade was one of the greatest political turnouts ever held anywhere, and its enthusiasm was proportionate to its bigness.

From eleven o'clock in the morning until six-thirty in the evening rank after rank of cheering men marched sixteen abreast past the reviewing stands at Madison Square, which contained Garrett A. Hobart, Republican candidate for the Vice-Presidency, Governor Levi P. Morton, Timothy L. Woodruff, Republican candidate for Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Ashley W. Cole, Mayor Strong, and Ex-Mayor Abram S. Hewitt, Ex-Senator Thomas C. Piatt, Cornelius N. Bliss, Powell Clayton, Joseph H. Manley, N. B. Scott, Colonel H. L. Swords, and other prominent political leaders.

The Avenue was crowded, and windows from which to see the parade had been rented days before. Gold bugs and other emblems were carried by the marchers, and when the blare of the bands died away "Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys," "John Brown's Body," and other patriotic songs burst in deafening choruses from thousands of lusty throats.

The Coaching Parades

During the eighties one of the most picturesque sights to be seen  on Fifth Avenue was the annual parade of the New York Coaching  Club. Coaching at that time was a favorite diversion of the wealthy people of the city. It was introduced from England in 1876 by Colonel Delancey Kane, who for his amusement started running a coach line from New York to Pelham Bridge, using a handsome old fashioned English coach imported from London.

Website: The History
Article Name: Parades and Funeral Processions On Fifth Avenue Part III
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
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