Organizations with deep roots in Lower Manhattan have come together to once again bring the celebration of July 4th to Lower Manhattan. Their efforts reflect Founding Father John Adam’s original admonition back in 1776 that the day of our independence be celebrated forever more in ways that will appeal to all Americans.
More than two hundred years ago Independence Day celebrations in Lower Manhattan helped give rise to the American government. More than a hundred years ago July 4th celebrations were the vehicle by which thousands of new immigrants to America learned about this country and its history. This year, the July 4th Festival Committee, a coalition of institutions, individuals, and organizations with an interest in Lower Manhattan and its history, intends to revive the American spirit by returning to Lower Manhattan’s roots with patriot celebrations.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts with Macy’s to return fireworks to the East River, where they will be in view of Lower Manhattan, is expected to benefit many local museums and businesses.
A working group consisting of representatives of the Fraunces Tavern Museum, Wall Street Walks, the National Park Service, the Downtown Alliance, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Culture Now, and NYC & Co., Inc., the Bowling Green Association, the Sons of the Revolution, the Daughters of the Revolution, the Sons of the American Revolution, as well as leading historical writers and walking tour historians have been working to put together a schedule of Lower Manhattan July 4th festivities, which include:
- An all-night walking tour of Lower Manhattan’s revolutionary history followed by a 7am wreath laying ceremony on the graves of General Horatio Gates, Alexander Hamilton and Marinus Willett in Trinity Churchyard.
- The National Parks Service will host a day of events at Federal Hall which will include musical performances by Linda Russell, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and activities for children.
- Fraunces Tavern Museum, which exists to educate the public and create genuine appreciation for New York City history as it relates to Colonial America, the Revolutionary War, and the Early Republic, will be open to the public on July 4 for $1 per person.
- The Museum of Jewish Heritage, in a gallery with a spectacular view of the Statue of Liberty, will exhibit Voices of Liberty, a soundscape composed of diverse voices-of Holocaust survivors, refugees, and others who chose to make the United States their home.
- A 51 gun salute at the Historic Castle Clinton by the New York Veteran Corps of Artillery.
- On the hour walking tours of Wall Street describing the founding of the nation’s financial system by Wall Street Walks.
- A reading of George Washington’s 1790 letter to the Touro Synagogue in Newport Rhode Island, stating that the United States shall “give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance” establishing tolerance for Jews and other minorities as the law of the land.
Organizers are welcoming participation, ideas, and assistance from other groups and individuals.
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A complete schedule (which is still evolving) and more information can be found online at: www.july4thinnewyork.com
Illustration: The Tammany Society Celebrating the 4th of July, 1812 (William P. Chappel, 1869) owned by the New York Historical Society