Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. On Oct. 12, 517 years later, banks are closed and there's no mail. And despite being a federal holiday, for most in the U.S. it's another day at the office.
The 300-year anniversary of Columbus' landing prompted the first recorded celebration of the achievement, in New York City in 1792. On the 400th anniversary, President Benjamin Harrison issued the first official proclamation urging Americans to celebrate the day. Franklin Roosevelt created the first federal observance of Columbus Day in 1937; Richard Nixon established the modern holiday by presidential proclamation in 1972.
New York City continues to show Columbus Day pride — the city holds the largest parade for it in the country.