28 October 1886: Wall Street's first ticker tape parade

On this day in 1886, the office boys of Wall Street celebrated the dedication of the Statue of Liberty with the first ticker tape parade.

The dedication of the Statue of Liberty on 28 October 1886 set the scene for the first ticker tape parade. New York City was in full carnival mode that morning with raucous crowds waving French and American flags. President Grover Cleveland led the procession through the streets of the city, passing jubilant spectators, vying with one another to catch a glimpse of the parade.

As the parade passed up Wall Street, out of the windows several mischievous "imps of office boys began to unreel the spools of tape that record the fateful messages of the ticker'", a journalist for The New York Times reported. "In a moment, the air was white with curling streamers".

The ticker tape was a reel of long, thin paper that fed into the stock ticker' a device connected to the telegraph system. It tracked the day's financial data, making a ticking sound as it printed hence the name. But of course, the office boys of Wall Street had found a far more inventive use for the tape that day.

Far from finding themselves in trouble, our reporter wrote that it "was altogether too much fun, and the office boys had to give way to their elders every window appeared to be a paper mill spouting out squirming lines of tape. Such was Wall Street's novel celebration."

New York took to the ticker tape parade as its own quirky style of celebration. Presidents, generals, aviators, astronauts and sporting champions have all been feted under a snow-storm of confetti, resembling a sort of modern-day Roman-style triumph' through the city. Although, these days, the ticker tape is mainly reserved for triumphs of a sporting nature (which says a lot about modern values).

And of course, Bloomberg terminals and electronic trading have long since replaced stock tickers on Wall Street. But find yourself on the Canyon of Heroes' on the right day, and you might still find yourself on the receiving end of several tonnes of paper.

Recommended

Britain’s ten most-hated shares – w/e 1 July
Stocks and shares

Britain’s ten most-hated shares – w/e 1 July

Rupert Hargreaves looks at Britain's ten most-hated shares, and what short-sellers are looking at now.
4 Jul 2022
Britain’s most-bought shares w/e 1 July
Stocks and shares

Britain’s most-bought shares w/e 1 July

A look at Britain’s most-bought shares in the week ending 1 July, providing an insight into how investors are thinking and where opportunities may lie…
4 Jul 2022
M&G offers a solid 10.1% yield – but future growth is uncertain
Share tips

M&G offers a solid 10.1% yield – but future growth is uncertain

Financial services group M&G has one of the highest dividend yields in the FTSE 100. But it’s a complicated company, and a tough one to analyse, says …
4 Jul 2022
We’re doing well on pensions – but we still need to do better
Pensions

We’re doing well on pensions – but we still need to do better

Pensions auto-enrolment has vastly increased the number of people in the UK with retirement savings. But we’re still not engaged enough, says Merryn S…
4 Jul 2022

Most Popular

Ray Dalio’s shrewd $10bn bet on the collapse of European stocks
European stockmarkets

Ray Dalio’s shrewd $10bn bet on the collapse of European stocks

Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater hedge fund is putting its money on a collapse in European stocks. It’s likely to pay off, says Matthew Lynn.
3 Jul 2022
UK house prices are definitely cooling off – but are they heading for a fall?
House prices

UK house prices are definitely cooling off – but are they heading for a fall?

UK house prices hit a fresh high in June, but as interest rates start to rise, the market is cooling John Stepek assesses just how much of an effect h…
30 Jun 2022
How to invest in copper, the most important metal in the world
Industrial metals

How to invest in copper, the most important metal in the world

As the world looks to electrify and try to move away from fossil fuels, copper looks set to be the biggest beneficiary. But how can you invest? Rupert…
30 Jun 2022