Fireworks shows are fairly awesome — but you might have noticed that explosions don't seem to be as tremendous and grand as they used to be. No, that's not just you being a jaded adult — there's a reason for it, Fast Company Design explains:
Today, shows tend to pack in more, smaller fireworks to make up scale in bulk. There are a variety of intersecting anthropological and financial reasons for that, explains Doug Taylor, the president of Zambelli Fireworks (a company that will put on roughly 600 fireworks shows across the country this holiday weekend). People live closer together, safety regulations have gotten tighter, and if you don’t have size, fireworks are exciting in sheer density.
“What’s happened is, the size shell that you can shoot in a particular location has decreased,” Taylor explains. Just as shell width correlates to height, so too does height correlate with regulation. Old regulations dictated that you needed 70 feet of area cleared for every inch of shell fired around a launch area. The new industry standard is 100 feet. So when you play that out, practically, a large 12-inch shell needs 1,200 feet (or nearly a quarter of a mile) cleared in every direction to be considered safe.
What it really comes down to is that there are too many people and too many houses, all too close together and spreading out way too far for fireworks to be as huge as they were, once upon a time.
For more, check out Fast Company Design.