Two hundred and thirty-seven years ago today, America was born. Kind of. More like we announced an intention to be born.
In that year, there were just 2.5 million people living in what would, in a few years, become the United States of America, according to current Census estimates. Today, the metropolitan areas of both New York City and Los Angeles have larger populations. Essentially, America was the size of modern Chicago.
Although the country has grown in both space and population, not everybody knows exactly what we're meant to be celebrating on the Fourth of July. Asked in what year America claimed independence, less than a third of Millennials correctly guessed 1776, according to a 2011 Marist Poll survey.
But enough celebrating ignorance and more celebrating America. In 2012, Americans spent nearly $1 billion on about 207 million pounds of display and consumer fireworks. That's about 60 percent more than we spent in 2000. Interestingly, the sheer number of pounds of fireworks we bought peaked in 2005.
The U.S. imports about a quarter of a billion dollars worth of fireworks with the vast, vast majority coming from China (appropriately enough, since the first fireworks in recorded history were from 7th century China).
The American Pyrotechnics Association (actual URL: http://www.americanpyro.com) claims that the rate of firework injuries has declined by about 80 percent since 1980. But there are still 4 recorded injuries for every 100,000 pounds of fireworks today. Here's how those injuries tend to break down (graph via Wonkblog).