May 1, 1849 (Tuesday)

This has been a grand day for the Firemen’s Parade, and a grand and imposing parade it was.  The fire apparatus was magnificent and almost hid by the profusions of flowers with which they were decorated.  It was a splendid scene, the music was not so good as it might have been.  Visited the Art Union this evening.

Philadelphia firemen held their triennial parade in late March and suffered through very poor weather conditions. Mother Nature made amends, though, by providing a beautiful day for the May Day parade. Sixty-six fire companies and some 3,000 firemen from Philadelphia, Camden, New Jersey, and New York city participated in the procession which took eighty minutes to pass a particular point along the route.  The Philadelphia Inquirer and the North American raised  their reporting to encomium. Both papers mentioned they did not have the column-inches to do the parade justice.

The Inquirer’s reporter gushed, “The apparatus, from first to last, was in splendid order. Many of the engines and hose carriages were almost buried in wreaths [these were tossed onto the engines by appreciative onlookers]. Banners and devices of every kind were displayed, and in most cases characterized by elegance, taste and propriety.” There were “bouquets of the most magnificent character” and “many other devices and embellishments that attracted attention and won applause.”

“We have little space for particulars, and indeed, if we had it at command it would be very difficult to discriminate. It seemed as if each company had endeavored to outvie the others, and this generous emulation produced results so worthy of commendation that we might fill columns in doing them justice,” wrote the anonymous North American reporter. It was apparently quite the spectacle. Horses were decorated; men dressed like “Indians, Friends and Sailors”; and much patriotism was on display.

Nathan first mentioned the Art Union gallery on April 13.


“Firemen’s Parade.” (Philadelphia) North American, May 2, 1849, 2.

“Parade of the Philadelphia Firemen.” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 2, 1849, 2.

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