It's July 4th, on which we celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence (transcript) and the colonies' independence from Great Britain in 1776. And here's that famous opening:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Back then, there were an estimated 2.5 million living in the newly-formed United States of America. Now our population is an estimated 309.6 million, according to the US Census Bureau!

Quite a few businesses will be open today, though under holiday hours, and many will be planning on how they will check out Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island and/or watch the fireworks, which will take place over the Hudson again (the Office of Emergency Management Tweeted, "West Side Highway between 22nd Street and 79th Street closed from 7/4/10 4:00PM to 7/5/10 1:00AM due to Hudson River Fireworks"). Or they'll take in a ball game or just enjoy the relative emptiness of the city. There are road closures and mass transit diversions—check on subway, bus and commuter train service.

You can share your July 4th photographs of fireworks, hot dogs, and other revelry by sending them to or tagging them "gothamist" on Flickr.