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

Cryptocurrency roundup: authorities tighten the screw
Bitcoin & crypto

Cryptocurrency roundup: authorities tighten the screw

Saloni Sardana looks at the cryptocurrency stories that caught our eye this week.
21 Jan 2022
Stockmarket crash: is the “superbubble” heading for a “superbust”?
Stockmarkets

Stockmarket crash: is the “superbubble” heading for a “superbust”?

America's Nasdaq stock index is down by more than 10% after soaring to all-time highs in a "superbubble". Are we about to see a "superbust" stockmarke…
21 Jan 2022
Inflation: now we really have something to worry about
Inflation

Inflation: now we really have something to worry about

We’ve been worrying about a sharp rise in inflation for years, says Merryn Somerset Webb – now, we finally have something to worry about.
21 Jan 2022
Share tips of the week – 21 January
Share tips

Share tips of the week – 21 January

MoneyWeek’s comprehensive guide to the best of this week’s share tips from the rest of the UK's financial pages.
21 Jan 2022

Most Popular

Ask for a pay rise – everyone else is
Inflation

Ask for a pay rise – everyone else is

As inflation bites and the labour market remains tight, many of the nation's employees are asking for a pay rise. Merryn Somerset Webb explains why yo…
17 Jan 2022
US inflation is at its highest since 1982. Why aren’t markets panicking?
Inflation

US inflation is at its highest since 1982. Why aren’t markets panicking?

US inflation is at 7% – the last time it was this high interest rates were at 14%. But instead of panicking, markets just shrugged. John Stepek explai…
13 Jan 2022
Interest rates might rise faster than expected – what does that mean for your money?
Global Economy

Interest rates might rise faster than expected – what does that mean for your money?

The idea that the US Federal Reserve could raise interest rates much earlier than anticipated has upset the markets. John Stepek explains why, and wha…
6 Jan 2022