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New York City’s Parade at the End of World War I Through these Historical Photos

The New York National Guard’s 27th Division marched on the streets of Manhattan on March 25, 1919. Two million people watched the division march five miles up Fifth Avenue after they returned from World War I. As people came from upstate New York and surrounding states to see the parade, Manhattan’s population increased by 500,000. There were 10,000 police officers on duty to control the crowds — 6,000 regular cops and 4,000 reserves. Plainclothes detectives were scattered throughout the public to keep an eye out for trouble.

A unique grandstand was built for 500 Civil War veterans and another for 1,000 soldiers from the Spanish-American War. In addition, the parade path was lined by 6,820 wounded Soldiers and Sailors recuperating in New York City hospitals.

At Washington Square, the parade route began with a massive victory arch that featured four balloons floating above the road and white pillars lining the route. Next, crystal glass-covered an arch at 60th Street. At night, searchlights illuminated the structures.

#1 Horses pull a carriage filled with flowers while large crowds look on.

Horses pull a carriage filled with flowers while large crowds look on.

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#2 Looking down Fifth Avenue, from 61st Street. That is the Arch of Jewels in the distance.

Looking down Fifth Avenue, from 61st Street. That is the Arch of Jewels in the distance.

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#3 Late in the parade, as the sun was low in the sky. That might be, at top left, the Pulitzer Fountain in Grand Army Plaza, outside the Plaza Hotel.

Late in the parade, as the sun was low in the sky. That might be, at top left, the Pulitzer Fountain in Grand Army Plaza, outside the Plaza Hotel.

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#4 Soldiers on parade, marching north on Fifth Avenue. Note the street sign on the light pole: 59th Street and 5th Avenue. A part of the Arch of Jewels is visible at top right.

Soldiers on parade, marching north on Fifth Avenue. Note the street sign on the light pole: 59th Street and 5th Avenue. A part of the Arch of Jewels is visible at top right.

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#5 An artillery gun. This one may have been captured from the Germans.

An artillery gun. This one may have been captured from the Germans.

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#6 A tank on display. Tanks were used for the first time in World War I; they were particularly well-suited to getting close to and then destroying machine gun positions.

A tank on display. Tanks were used for the first time in World War I; they were particularly well-suited to getting close to and then destroying machine gun positions.

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#7 What looks like a rather impromptu placement of a sculpture, on New York’s streets.

What looks like a rather impromptu placement of a sculpture, on New York’s streets.

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#8 This is quite a visual–a pyramid built of what appears to be artillery shells, with a gun in the foreground.

This is quite a visual–a pyramid built of what appears to be artillery shells, with a gun in the foreground.

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#9 A longer view, on a Manhattan avenue, with artillery guns, columns, and murals in the mid-ground and the pyramid, surrounded by more columns, in the distance.

A longer view, on a Manhattan avenue, with artillery guns, columns, and murals in the mid-ground and the pyramid, surrounded by more columns, in the distance.

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#10 A closer look at the murals lining the avenue.

A closer look at the murals lining the avenue.

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#11 This Victory Arch, a temporary structure erected just to the west of Madison Square Park, at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, where the crowd surged into the streets to greet the marchers.

This Victory Arch, a temporary structure erected just to the west of Madison Square Park, at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, where the crowd surged into the streets to greet the marchers.

Work on the Victory Arch, designed by a team of 40 artists, was completed the night before the parade.

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#12 The temporary plaster and lath Arch of Jewels stretched across Fifth Avenue at 60th Street.

The temporary plaster and lath Arch of Jewels stretched across Fifth Avenue at 60th Street.

The two shafts of the Arch of Jewels rose to 80 feet. They were covered with thousands of prisms; when lit up at night by beams cast by several dozen searchlights, the prisms sparkled with the colors of the rainbow.

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#13 Spears and shields stood in front of the New York Public Library, at the Court of the Heroic Dead.

Spears and shields stood in front of the New York Public Library, at the Court of the Heroic Dead.

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#14 Columns wrapped and a banner above the doorway: “THAT THEY SHALL NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN.”

Columns wrapped and a banner above the doorway: “THAT THEY SHALL NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN.”

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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