Carl Van Vechten Looks at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

In 1924, employees from Macy’s organized the company’s first parade featuring floats and animals from Central Park Zoo. The parade began at 9 in the morning on Thanksgiving Day, November 27, and proceeded from 145th Street and Convent Avenue to the Macy’s store on Broadway and 34th Street, ending at noon. The event was a success, prompting Macy’s to declare in newspapers the following day that the parade would return in 1925. Now a New York City institution, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade marks its 85th anniversary this year.

Carl Van Vechten (1880 – 1964) was primarily known as a writer, America’s first modern dance critic, patron of the Harlem Renaissance and the photographer of many performers and literary figures such as Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes, Anna May Wong, and Mahalia Jackson. He also documented daily life in New York City. Below is a selection of the photographs he took of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. To see all of his shots of the parade, visit our Collections Portal.

Carl Van Vechten. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. November 25, 1937. Museum of the City of New York. X2010.8.235

Carl Van Vechten. Macy's Day Parade. November 25, 1937. Museum of the City of New York. X2010.8.243

Carl Van Vechten. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. November 22, 1945. Museum of the City of New York. X2010.8.228

Carl Van Vechten. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. November 28, 1946. Museum of the City of New York. X2010.8.232

Carl Van Vechten. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. November 28, 1946. Museum of the City of New York. X2010.8.236

Carl Van Vechten. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. November 28, 1946. Museum of the City of New York. X2010.8.226

Carl Van Vechten. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. November 28, 1946. Museum of the City of New York. X2010.8.225

All photos are used with permission from the Van Vechten Trust.

2 responses to “Carl Van Vechten Looks at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade

  1. Great history and pics on such a momentous yearly occasion. LOVE THE MACY’S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE!!!

  2. Fascinating! I had no idea that Van Vechten had photographed the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

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