Friday, November 21, 2008

Streets of Gold

(Image: Monterey Centennial Poster, California State Archives, Sacramento, California, considered in the public domain.)

The 1946 centennial of the U.S. seizure of California and the West from Mexico was a four-day celebration on the Monterey Peninsula, starting with the first Fourth of July parade since World War II ended. Alvarado Street was painted gold that day and the boisterous parade of troops, bands, drill teams, and dignitaries attracted 100,000 tourists and prompted the Herald to compare the festivities to Times Square on New Year's Eve. It was the largest crowd ever assembled in Monterey. But that was Thursday. On Saturday another parade – three miles long with Gov. Earl Warren at the front - drew as many as 150,000 spectators. It was followed by concerts, dances, and parties that extended through the night into Sunday morning - July 7, 1946 – when an American flag-raising ceremony in front of the Custom House recreated the scene that first took place there 100 years earlier.

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