July 4th has always been one of my favorite holidays. What’s not to love about sunny weather, backyard barbecues, parades, national spirit and—of course—fireworks?!
The first fireworks probably originated in China nearly 2,000 years ago. Science, alchemy, superstition, spirituality, and imperial legacy exploded. So did tall tales: Legend has it, a cook accidentally combined charcoal, sulphur, and saltpeter while experimenting one day in the kitchen. Stored in a bamboo tube, the volatile mixture exploded upon contact with flames.
Fireworks spread like wildfire at celebrations spread from Asia to Europe and Africa. They arrived in Australia and the New World with European colonization.
What’s really in fireworks? Take a look at these typically terrific Compound Interest graphics to get an idea.
Today, fireworks can be seen at celebrations around the world from Iran to Hong Kong to Cuba.
Best Places to Feel the Boom!
Where is your favorite place to watch 4th of July fireworks?
Here are our Top 10:
- The National Mall in Washington, D.C.
- Addison, Texas
- Boston, Massachusetts
- New York City, New York
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Las Vegas, Nevada
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Lake Tahoe, California-Nevada
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Seattle, Washington
While professionals put on magnificent shows around the nation, laws governing the amateur use of fireworks vary by state. Check out this map, and click here to find your state’s laws, and have a safe, happy holiday!
James R. Heintze, American University: Fourth of July Celebrations Database
History Channel: Fireworks’ Vibrant History
Compound Interest: The Chemistry of Fireworks
Travel + Leisure: The Best Fourth of July Fireworks in Every U.S. State