By Mathew Katz
NEW YORK CITY — New Yorkers will get a chance to celebrate their patriotism — and take in a breathtaking display — when an astounding 40,000 fireworks explode into the sky over the Hudson River for the 37th annual Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Show.
This year's display will be synchronized to a 25-minute score hand-picked by Usher, who is directing the extravaganza. It features appearances by Nick Cannon, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Mariah Carey and Tim McGraw.
Starting about 9 p.m., the fireworks will launch from barges on the Hudson between West 24th and 42nd streets. Crowds are expected to start filling 12th Avenue in the morning to reserve a spot close to the action.
But the street may not be the most comfortable vantage point. For viewers looking for a more relaxed, less-crowded vibe while taking in the show, DNAinfo New York has put together some of the best places to watch:
The public can view the fireworks for free from spots along 12th Avenue, between West 24th and 59th streets. The area will get crowded fast, so get there as early as possible to ensure a clear view.
Access to 12th Avenue is limited to certain streets, which the public can enter from 11th Avenue at 24th, 26th, 27th, 29th, 33rd, 34th, 40th, 42nd, 44th, 50th, 52nd, 54th, 56th and 57th streets.
Historic Ships Gala at Pier 66 (West 26th Street and the Hudson River)
If you want to be close to the show and high above it all, you can pay a premium to be right on the water for the breathtaking display.
Now in its fifth year, this party on the rooftop of Pier 66 — right next to the popular Frying Pan — benefits the North River Historic Ship Society and features food, an open bar and table seating. Access is limited to 100 people who buy advance tickets, so the gala can guarantee that there won't be huge crowds.
Tickets are $225, including a $175 tax-deductible donation to the society, and are available online.
Soaked at Mondrian SoHo — 150 Lafayette St.
This 2,500-square-foot rooftop on the tallest building in SoHo offers sweeping views of both the city and the fireworks show. The bar's Red, White and Juice party kicks off at 7 p.m. with an open beer and wine bar, along with artisanal popcorn to snack on and music by DJ Brooklyn Dawn.
General admission is $95, with table packages ranging from $2,500 to $6,000. Tickets can be purchased online.
Sky Terrace at the Hudson Hotel — 356 W. 58th St.
The Hudson Hotel is a more affordable option for those hoping to catch the action from a rooftop. Tickets for this hot spot start at $40, including an hour of open bar from 6 to 7 p.m. The party runs until 11:30 p.m. with music by Rawse, J. Schott and Brandon James.
Those who want bottle service can also get a table, with prices ranging from $400 to $1,200. Tickets are available online.
Plunge Bar at Hotel Gansevoort Meatpacking — 18 Ninth Ave.
The rooftop bar at this boutique hotel has a retractable cover — meaning that it has air conditioning if Independence Day is a scorcher, and cover if it rains. A stone's throw from the Hudson River, this party offers patrons red, white and blue cocktails to enjoy along with the holiday's fireworks.
Tickets — with a guarantee of an unobstructed view of the festivities — are available for $250 a person, with general admission starting at $50 per person. Reservations are available by calling 212-660-6736.
Classic Harbor Line Boat — Pier 62, West 22nd Street and the Hudson River.
Why watch the festivities from land when you can see them from a boat? Classic Harbor Lines has four boats to choose from — two schooners and two luxury yachts — that will set sail just before the fireworks begin. Each cruise includes an open bar of beer, wine and Champagne, along with hors d'oeuvres.
This is about as close as you'll get to the fireworks without being the one to set them off — and it shows in the price. The cruises, starting at 7:30 p.m., range from $326 to $426 per person. Tickets are available online.
Top of the Rock - 30 Rockefeller Plaza
If booze isn't your thing, this landmark is tall enough to get a view of the show.
Tickets were still available this week for the Top of the Rock — for $27 — though it's likely to be crowded with a combination of tourists and thrifty New Yorkers. Snap up your tickets quickly, though — they're available online and will likely sell out.
Happy 2nd of July?!
Author Kenneth C. Davis has revealed that the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/02/independence-day-july-2_n_3535004.html" target="_blank">2nd of July may actually be the more appropriate date to mark the nation's special day</a>. "The fact is that John Adams wrote home to Abigail on the 3rd that this day, July 2nd will go down in history," Davis said <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-505263_162-10017385.html" target="_blank">during an appearance on "CBS This Morning."</a> "We'll celebrate it with parades and pomp and bells ringing and fireworks, and it was because Congress actually ruled it in favor of independence on July 2. But it was two days later, of course, that Congress then accepted Jefferson's declaration, explaining the vote two days before that really got fixed in the America's imagination as our birthday. July 2nd should be Independence Day."
R.I.P Founding Fathers
In a bizarre, though perhaps apt, twist of fate, both Thomas Jefferson (left) <em>and</em> John Adams (right) died on July 4, 1826. "The publication of the Declaration of Independence may have accidentally made the Fourth of July the official day of independence for America, but the <a href="http://thefw.com/things-about-fourth-of-july/" target="_blank">deaths of two of its founders cemented its creation of the date's designation</a>," wrote the FW's Danny Gallagher in a post commemorating Independence Day last year. <em>Correction: A previous version of this slide misidentified Adams as being on the left and Jefferson on the right.</em>
Happy Filipino, Rwandan Independence Day too!
July 4 marks a day of liberation in both the Philippines and Rwanda. In the Southeast Asian nation, July 4, known as "Republic Day," marks the date when the United States officially recognized the Philippines as an independent state in 1946. (However, though the day is still significant to Filipino history, <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/the-one-other-country-that-celebrates-the-fourth-of-july-sort-of/259410/" target="_blank">June 12 has been the country's official Independence Day since 1962</a>.) Rwandans, on the other hand, celebrate "Liberation Day" on July 4. According to a <a href="http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/07/03/happy-liberation-day-rwanda/?_r=0" target="_blank">2008 post for the New York Times by blogger Josh Ruxin</a>, the date marks the 1994 "end of the Rwandan Genocide, and the birth of the new government that rose from the ashes." (Video from Rwanda's 2009 Liberation Day celebration was captured by NTV Kenya.)
"Americans began observing the Fourth of July as early as 1777, when the first-ever major celebration in Philadelphia included a parade, a thirteen-shot cannon salute and fireworks, but<a href="http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/07/04/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-fourth-of-july/slide/the-fourth-became-a-national-holiday-1870/" target="_blank"> Congress didn’t make it official until 1870, when it was part of a bill passed to recognize major state holidays at a federal level</a> -- like Independence Day, Christmas and New Year’s Day," according to TIME magazine.
Birthday Celebrations Abound!
<a href="http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/on-this-day/July-4/" target="_blank">Calvin Coolidge, the country's 30th president, was born on Independence Day</a>. Others celebrating birthdays on July Fourth include, Nobel laureate and economist Gerard Debreu, Olympic gold medalist and tennis Hall of Famer Pam Shriver, "Ugly Betty" actress Becki Newton and<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/malia-obama-birthday_n_1647688.html" target="_blank"> current first daughter Malia Obama</a> (pictured here with mom, Michelle, in January.)
Hot Dogs Galore
July Fourth is the "<a href="http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/07/04/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-fourth-of-july/slide/how-many-hot-dogs-will-we-eat/" target="_blank">biggest hot dog holiday of the year</a>," according to TIME magazine, with Americans reportedly consuming about 155 million of them on Independence Day alone. But despite a nationwide love for the salty snack, no one really knows where the hot dog came from. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, it is "<a href="http://www.hot-dog.org/ht/d/sp/i/38594/pid/38594" target="_blank">likely that the North American hot dog comes from a widespread common European sausage brought here by butchers of several nationalities</a>." The meaty treat's origin story remains murky, however.
Turtle Soup, Anyone?
Though hot dogs, french fries and barbecued treats are typical Fourth of July fare nowadays, our Founding Fathers <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/03/july-4th-food-history_n_3541572.html?utm_hp_ref=fourth-of-july" target="_blank">feasted on some pretty different foods to celebrate the country's independence back in the day</a>. "According to legend, on July 4, 1776, John Adams…and his wife, Abigail, <a href="http://www.delish.com/food/recalls-reviews/fourth-of-july-historical-menu-turtle-soup" target="_blank">sat down for a celebratory meal of turtle soup, New England poached salmon with egg sauce, green peas and boiled new potatoes in jackets</a>. They followed the meal with Indian pudding or Apple Pandowdy," wrote Justine Sterling for Delish.com in 2011.
The "State Of Independence"
Is Pennsylvania the country's most patriotic state? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the so-called "State of Independence," where the Declaration of Independence was debated and signed, is <a href="http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb13-ff14.html" target="_blank">home to 11 places with the word "liberty" in their name and 33 with the word "union" in them</a>, leading the country for the number of places with such names. (Only one place in the nation has "patriot" in its name, according to the bureau. Patriot, Ind., is said to have an estimated population of 209.)
American Bald... Turkey?
In a <a href="http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/franklin-newrepublic.html#29" target="_blank">letter to his daughter Sarah Bache in 1784</a>, Benjamin Franklin wrote that he was displeased that the bald eagle had been chosen as the symbol for the nation. "He is a <a href="http://interviewangel.com/17-fun-facts-about-the-fourth-of-july/" target="_blank">Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly</a>," he wrote. "You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk." A turkey, Franklin went on to argue, is a far "more respectable" bird. "Turk'y… [is a] true original Native of America," Franklin wrote. "He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."
Tap, Tap, Tap
Due to <a href="http://www.nps.gov/inde/liberty-bell-center.htm" target="_blank">concerns about cracking the iconic instrument</a>, the Liberty Bell has not been rung since 1846. Instead, every year, to mark the Fourth of July, the 2,000-pound bell is <a href="http://www.uwishunu.com/2009/07/the-tapping-of-the-liberty-bell-how-sweet-the-sound/" target="_blank">tapped 13 times to signal for bells across the country to start ringing</a>.