Ryan Holeywell | @RyanHoleywell | July 3, 2015
Here at the Kinder Institute, we focus on rigorous research about cities.
But in the spirit of Independence Day, we present something a little different. Below is our entirely unscientific look at the 11 coolest July 4 fireworks displays.
1. Washington, D.C.
With some of the nations most revered monuments providing a dramatic backdrop, the fireworks display in Washington, D.C. is hard to beat. This year, the fireworks show is accompanied by musical performances from Barry Manilow, the National Symphony Orchestra, and a slew of military bands playing in front of the U.S. Capitol.
2. New York City
The world’s most famous skyline serves as the background for the Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular. Shells are blasted from barges in the East River, allowing viewers in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens to see the stunning view
The city’s July 4 celebration features a performance by famous Boston Pops at the Hatch Memorial Shell along the Charles River Esplanade.
Philadelphia – where it all began – puts on many July 4 events every year. In the afternoon, descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence will gather at the Liberty Bell. Later in the day, Philadelphia natives The Roots will perform on Benjamin Franklin Parkway before fireworks blast above the city’s famed art museum.
Last year, Music City used more than 16,000 pounds of fireworks in their Independence Day display. This year, organizers say they’re using more and expect to have the country’s largest July 4 fireworks show. The event also features music from the Nashville Symphony and country superstar Martina McBride.
Country music legend Clint Black headlines Houston’s Freedom Over Texas fireworks celebration at the newly-renovated Eleanor Tinsley Park along Buffalo Bayou. Interestingly, the Texas city experiences a double dose of twang on Independence Day. Country mega star Garth Brooks performs two July 4 concerts nearby at the Toyota Center at the same time.
7. San Diego
The “Big Bay Boom” show had a scary moment in 2012, when 7,000 fireworks discharged simultaneously, and the entire show’s arsenal exploded in less than a minute. The event has bounced back, and organizers say with yearly attendance of around 500,000, it’s the largest annual event in the western U.S.
8. St. Louis
The Fair St. Louis event isn’t just a fireworks display but a three-day festival. Once housed on the grounds of the famed Gateway Arch, the festivities have been temporarily moved to Forest Park as the structure undergoes renovations.
9. Pasadena, Calif.
This year marks the 88th anniversary of “Americafest” held at the famed Rose Bowl stadium. A pre-show motorcycle trick exhibition adds a unique touch to the festivities.
10. San Francisco
Pier 39 hosts activities all day, culminating in a display above San Francisco Bay. Because of the show’s waterfront location, boaters and kayaks have a particularly impressive view of the display.
11. New Orleans
The Crescent City’s fireworks are two simultaneous displays in which of a pair of teams on barges floating in the Mississippi River try to outdo each other. The festivities occur right next to the French Quarter, so there’s always a post-show party.