Durant dressed up for the occasion, wearing a top hat and tails. From the air, he dropped copies of poems praising the joys of flight.
According to Writersalmanac: “Americans were late to embrace hot-air balloons. The first manned balloon ride had taken place in Paris in 1783 — almost 50 years before Durant’s flight. Within a year of the Paris flight, a group had crossed the English Channel. The first flight in America actually occurred in 1793, and it was observed by a crowd that included President Washington; but the aeronaut was French, and despite a number of fundraising schemes, he was unable to pay off the debt from his flight, and he returned to France.”
Historians tell us that when Durant took off from Manhattan in 1830, ballooning seemed new and exciting to Americans. A huge crowd gathered to watch.
The New York Post reported: “The spectacle drew many persons to the Battery, which was literally covered with an immense multitude of every age, sex, condition and color, whose faces were all turned upwards. It is estimated that upwards of twenty thousand persons were collected to see a man risk his neck for their amusement and for their money.”