Canyon of Heroes

Visitors to lower Manhattan may notice some unusual granite markers embedded in the sidewalks along Broadway. Those granite markers looks like this:

November 13, 1951 – Women in the Armed Services

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.

October 17, 1949 – Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India
April 7, 1952 – Juliana, Queen of the Netherlands, and Prince Bernhard
June 1, 1954 – Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia
November 4, 1955 – Carlos Castillo Armas, President of Guatemala
June 29, 1959 – Dr. Arturo Frondizi, President of Argentina
July 5, 1960 – Their Majesties the King and Queen of Thailand

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.

July 7, 1952 – U.S. Olympic Team Send-Off to the Helsinki Games
July 11, 1957 – Althea Gibson, Wimbledon Women’s Champion
October 3, 1979 – Pope John Paul II
June 20, 1990 – Nelson Mandela, African National Congress Leader
October 29, 1996 – New York Yankees, World Series Champions

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.

October 26, 1931 – Henri Phillippe Petain, Marshal of France

Interested in reading the Commission’s full report on this and other controversial monuments? You can find it here.

23 thoughts on “Canyon of Heroes

  1. I never knew this! Thanks for the great insight into NYC!
    While I was working there I saw a ticker tape parade for the women’s national soccer team running down Broadway. Think they have a plaque now?

  2. Fascinating. Do they still have them? You’d think people would see them as litter tape these days! They are a great idea. In London we tend to have open top bus parades and they are only for sports heroes. Heads of State get a carriage with the Queen if they are (politically) important enough.

  3. Interesting to read about and fun to see the one for the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games as you probably realise by now that Finland is a country dear to my heart!! Ticker tape parades and open top bus parades – great ways to celebrate achievement, etc

  4. Thanks for giving the criteria! I was having trouble putting Pétain & “hero” in the same category… An evocative roll call. And a reminder we should always look down, as well as around & up…

  5. Anonymous

    Thanks for this! Walk by it all the time and never bothered to really “find out” what it meant. Now when I walk it I’m gonna really pay attention to it.

    1. It’s so funny that you say the sidewalks are clean – it’s not usually something visitors associate with New York City! There are certainly some parts that are much cleaner than others, but shop owners try to keep them swept and street cleaners come along and clean up the nearby streets. I often had to remove cigarette butts or other litter in order to get a good shot.

  6. Pingback: Art in the Details: Looking Up in the Financial District – Finding NYC

  7. Jacques Bargeot

    Thank You Suzan for thaïs interesting paper.
    Where could I find a complete list of the heroes who where honored with a parade ni the Canyon from 1886 to now?

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