Visitors to lower Manhattan may notice some unusual granite markers embedded in the sidewalks along Broadway. Those granite markers looks like this:
The further you walk, the more markers you will see – and they are located on both sides of the street. Each marker lists a date and a person or group of people. But why are they here? The answer is actually located above, on the street corner signs along this path. The stretch of Broadway from the tip of Manhattan, known as the Battery, to City Hall is known as the Canyon of Heroes.
But what qualifies someone to be included in the Canyon of Heroes, you might ask? All someone needs to do is be the guest of honor at one of New York City’s ticker tape parades. One of the earliest parades along this route was on October 28, 1886, celebrating the dedication of the Statue of Liberty, but ticker tape parades really got their start when American troops began returning home after World War I.
Here’s the granite marker for the start of the Canyon of Heroes. (As you can see from the edge of the photos, some of the sidewalk vendors end up blocking some markers.)
In all, there have been more than 200 ticker tape parades, and every one has been commemorated with a granite marker. Approximately 130 of those took place during a 20-year period between 1945 and 1965. During that time period, heads of state of many countries were honored with parades. It’s interesting to see some of the names of those heads of state today. Although they were known as allies of the United States, some of these heads of state had mixed records when it came to democratic government or human rights issues. The markers show a wide range of international leaders from all over the world.
Here are just a few of the markers for heads of state.
There are many other markers as well, commemorating milestones in terrestrial and outer space exploration, sports figures and teams, famous cultural figures, and more. Here are some additional examples of some of those markers.
Interested in learning more about the ticker tapes parades commemorated in the Canyon of Heroes? This website has more information about them, as well as several historical parade photos and even a podcast.
Update to this post (1/14/2018): One of the most controversial markers on the Canyon of Heroes route is this one for Marshal Petain of France. Petain received his ticker tape parade in 1931 because of his reputation as a hero of World War I, but that reputation was tarnished by his role as a Nazi collaborator during World War II. In recent months, the mayor of New York City had a commission consider whether some controversial markers and monuments across the city should be removed; this marker was one of those under consideration. Ultimately, the commission determined that the marker should not be removed (or any of the other markers on the route), but that signs should be posted to add context for the controversial names on the route and the signs labeling the route “Canyon of Heroes” (see the second photo above) be removed.
Interested in reading the Commission’s full report on this and other controversial monuments? You can find it here.