Site hosted by Build your free website today!

more 1970s

Nostalgia Cafe
main page

Nostalgia Cafe
site map

The Bicentennial


In 1976, America celebrated the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It was a party that took many years to prepare and two years to celebrate.

Planning for the event began as far back as 1966, with the formation of the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission. Planning began in earnest in 1973 when the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration took over. These organizations oversaw all aspects of the occasion. Among other things, they chose an official Bicentennial logo and theme song ("Get Into America").


The official Bicentennial logo

Click here for a larger version (25KB)

(Thanks to Mary Mc for
sending it to me!)


Between 1974 and 1976, the CBS television network aired a series of public service announcements known as Bicentennial Minutes. These short programs highlighted the historical events leading up to America's independence. They were narrated by various celebrities and were shown every evening just before the prime-time programs came on.

The first segment was narrated by Charleton Heston and aired on July 4, 1974. In 1976, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller narrated the July 3rd segment. The series ended on December 31, 1976 with a final episode hosted by President Gerald Ford. The series won an Emmy in 1976.

patriotic spirit
Signs of Bicentennial fever were everywhere. All across the country, landmarks were painted with patriotic colors and designs. Buildings, fire hydrants, locomotives....nothing escaped the artist's paintbrush. These were the days when car owners received a new set of license plates every year, and most states adopted a patriotic design for 1976. Many companies produced special Bicentennial editions of their regular products, including food, beverages, pens and collector's plates. Bicentennial T-shirts and buttons were all the rage. At Disneyland, the Main Street Electrical Parade was put on hold for two years so they could bring you America On Parade.

Iron City "1976" Beer

Even Snoopy got into the spirit!

Bicentennial locomotive

Patriotic Dr. Pepper bottle and Clark candy bar

Collector's plate and Boy Scout patch

Bicentennial lapel pin

Did you know?....
There are no quarters dated 1975.
The United States Mint began issuing
Bicentennial quarters in 1975, which
were dated 1776-1976. No regular
quarters were issued by the Mint in 1975.

In 1976, many towns and libraries used the occasion to reflect on the past and look to the future. This was accomplished by compiling oral and written histories, sewing quilts and assembling time capsules.

Freedom Train
One of the most memorable and ambitious Bicentennial projects was the American Freedom Train. In 1975, the classic locomotive Daylight 4449 was given a stunning new paint job before being sent on her cross-country journey. Behind her, the 4449 pulled over 20 cars containing relics from America's history. At each town it stopped in, customers could buy a ticket and step into America's past. Most of the displays were inside the cars, in glass cases. Some of the larger items took up entire cars and could be seen from the outside through windows. The items on display included historical documents, an antique cash register, a hand-pump fire engine, Dorothy's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz and a lunar rover from one of the moon missions.

The "Daylight 4449" pulling
the Freedom Train

The Freedom Train parked in Pittsburgh

In honor of the Bicentennial, Ronco released The Music Of America, which featured patriotic songs and popular folk tunes. On this record, you could hear America The Beautiful, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Old Man River, Deep In The Heart Of Texas and much more!

Cutting the big cake
in Washington D.C.

Tall ships awaiting the
parade in New York City

Fireworks over New York City


As the big day approached, most schools staged some sort of Bicentennial show or pageant. In April 1976, the four grade schools in my district collaborated to present "Patchwork Of American Song." On the Fourth itself, many communities had parades, picnics, Revolutionary War reenactments and the obligatory fireworks.

Some towns really knew how to party! In the town of George, Washington, citizens dined on a 60-square-foot cherry pie. In New York City, tourists enjoyed the Parade Of Tall Ships on the Hudson River.

Bicentennial links

return to the 1970s main page