Flags fly high and grills are hot. Parade-goers cheer with banners in hand. Picnickers fill their bellies with hot dogs and hamburgers.
On July 4, 1776, the United States declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain (now called the United Kingdom). One year later, fireworks were shot into the sky in Philadelphia to honor the declaration, and Fourth of July celebrations have taken various forms since then. The date was finally designated a federal holiday in the United States in 1870. (Read more facts about the Fourth of July.)
Today, generations of Americans come together to celebrate the country’s Independence Day. People don jeans, swimsuits, or their most patriotic red, white, and blue attire to pay homage to the stars and stripes of Old Glory. Revelers will hit the streets for a day of parades, carnivals, or bonfires. They may attend a baseball game, rodeo, county fair, or dance—perhaps even a pig race.
As dusk arrives, troves of people line up on blankets, the hoods of their cars, and atop hills or rooftops to watch fireworks light up the sky. From the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., to the barges off the Municipal Pier in San Francisco, colorful displays explode overhead. (See "Unexpected Places to Celebrate Fourth of July".)
In honor of this day of independence, enjoy these photos from the National Geographic archives celebrating America.
Lauren O'Brien is a digital news writer at National Geographic, covering topics related to culture and exploration.