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What the 4th of July Looked Like in Vintage Los Angeles

Tina Lernø, Librarian, Digital Content Team,
fireworks at Los Angeles City Hall
Fireworks at Los Angeles City Hall, [2002]. Gary Leonard Photo Collection

Independence Day aka the Fourth of July commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen (American) colonies were no longer subject to Great Britain's rule, but were united, free, and independent states. People across the country celebrate with fireworks, parades, concerts, family gatherings, and barbecues. How will you be spending it? If it's fireworks you're looking for, there are plenty of places around the Southland to see legal displays, including the Rose Bowl, Exposition Park, Disneyland, Long Beach, and more.You can watch on TV or live stream through various social media as well if you are busy barbecuing. Or maybe you want to see how Angelenos celebrated in years past. The library of course has a great collection of images from July 4 celebrations dating back to the 1800s. You'll need look no farther than a scroll down this page.

Enjoy, and have a safe Fourth of July!

4th of July parade near Bella Union
4th of July parade near Bella Union. The Bella Union became the Clarenden in 1873 and the St. Charles in 1875. Pico's Building, to the left, was the original home of Farmers and Merchants Bank, later merged into Security Pacific Bank. [1871]. Security Pacific National Bank Collection
Wagon decorated for July 4th
A wagon decorated as a float for the July 4th Parade with children seated on it dressed in costume, [1890]. Security Pacific National Bank Collection
July 4th celebration
Firemen in the 4th of July parade celebration at Santa Ana, [1890]. Security Pacific National Bank Collection
Fourth of July parade participants
The Lompoc Grammar School forms the background for these Fourth of July parade entries with first prize going to Leela McAdam (McCabe) who decorated her bicycle with sweet peas, [ca. 1900]. Security Pacific National Bank Collection
Swimming race at Venice of America
A large crowd is present in the amphitheater at Venice near Los Angeles to view the swimming races on July 4th. Here the 50 yard race has just begun, [1905]. Security Pacific National Bank Collection
Independence day in Bellflower, 1915
Independence Day in Bellflower, [1915]. Herald Examiner Collection
Fourth of July celebration 1923
A group in costume at the International Institute's Fourth of July celebration. The International Institute of Los Angeles was one of the earliest organizations to assist the diverse immigrant groups in Boyle Heights, [1923]. Shades of L.A. Collection
Andrea Scaramucci, Catalina Island
Andrea Scaramucci and other family members enjoy a 4th of July outing on Santa Catalina Island in the late 1920's, Shades of L.A. Collection
3 kids plug their ears from fireworks noise.
Let's plug those ears! Braced for warning of biggest A-bomb test in desert. Young and old alike in Los Angeles are poised for "It could happen here day" as historic A-bomb nears target; sirens will sound 10 minutes before drop, [July 4, 1951]. Herald Examiner Collection
Valley drum, fife and flag delegation - Peter Paulson, 4, Andy Fogliano, 8, and David Paulson, 8
Valley drum, fife and flag delegation declares holiday spirit of 1956 to be one of festivity and observance of that July day in 1776 when 56 men mutually pledged their 'lives, fortunes and sacred honor' in support of Declaration of Independence. In background is Burbank's Bellarmine-Jefferson High School, a replica of Philadelphia's Independence Hall where famed document was adopted by Continental Congress, [1956]. Valley Times Collection
Fireworks light up the sky
Skies over Los Angeles Coliseum will sparkle with color during fireworks display, [1963]. Valley Times Collection
A bangup July 4th
Crunch! - Two cars collide during a featured event of the daredevil 'Thrill-O-Rama' automobile show Saturday at the Los Angeles County American Legion's 'Salute to Bob Hope' Independence Day spectacular in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Show also featured a gala fireworks display, the international Junior Baseball championship game and a parade, [1964]. Photo credit: Bob Martin, Valley Times Collection
Patriotic 4th of July
Fourth of July picnic with singing, balloons and a Statue of Liberty replica on 5th and Towne in downtown skid row, [1975]. Photo credit: Dean Musgrove, Herald Examiner Collection
American Bicentennial parade on Wilshire Boulevard
American Bicentennial parade on Wilshire Boulevard. Thousands line the curbs as the Big Red Trolley Car proceeds westward with members of the California Boy's Choir and city officials inside, [July 4,1976]. Photo credit: Linda Brundige, Herald Examiner Collection