David Sonntag
08 Jan 2015

Throwback Thursday: Vintage Parade Photos from the early 1900’s

In the midst of a busy New Year season, we caught a few minutes of the annual Pasadena Rose Parade broadcast, and naturally, we marvel at both the floats and the logistics: can you imagine? Even as a member of the industry, it’s hard to wrap your head around the amount of work it takes to put together an event that size.

The official parade website gives us a taste: “An event as large as the Tournament of Roses requires about 80,000 hours of combined manpower each year. That manpower is supplied by 935 members of the non-profit Tournament of Roses Association, a volunteer organization dedicated to presenting an internationally-recognized New Year’s celebration. Each volunteer is assigned to one of 31 committees, with responsibilities ranging from selecting parade participants to directing visitors on New Year’s Day, to hosting the press headquarters for media coverage of the Rose Bowl Game, to giving presentations about the Tournament to community groups.”

80,000 man hours. That means it would take one person working full-time for 38 years to organize a single Rose Parade. Dude.

So, in tribute to both Throwback Thursday and the prowess of the Rose Parade team, we’ve collected a series of parades and floats from yesteryear, archived by the Library of Congress. These photos are largely compiled from George Grantham Bain Collection, which “represents the photographic files of one of America’s earliest news picture agencies. The collection richly documents sports events, theater, celebrities, crime, strikes, disasters, political activities including the woman suffrage campaign, conventions and public celebrations. The photographs Bain produced and gathered for distribution through his news service were worldwide in their coverage, but there was a special emphasis on life in New York City. The bulk of the collection dates from the 1900s to the mid-1920s, but scattered images can be found as early as the 1860s and as late as the 1930s.”

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Columbia’s alumni float, class of 1909, marches in a 1913 parade.

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Also from 1913, this Suffrage Parade float, themed “Women of the Bible Lands”. The parade was held on March 3 in Washington, DC.

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“Miss Rochester” float from the Rochester, New York 1912 Centennial parade.

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Here’s one you won’t see again in a hurry: the 1916 Cloak Maker’s Parade in New York, near Madison Square.

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Not a ton of info on this 1912 Naval Parade float, but look at the Victorian garland explosion on that thing.

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May 30, 1913 parade on 59th St. “Photo shows parade before the unveiling ceremonies for the memorial to the battleship Maine, which had exploded in the harbor of Havana, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War of 1898. In 1913, the monument was placed at the Columbus Circle and 59th Street entrance to Central Park in New York City.”

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