When news came on May 7, 1945, that the Nazis had surrendered and the war in Europe was over, cities across the globe played host to raucous celebrations.
The original V-E Day, or Victory in Europe Day—which is commemorated on May 7 in Great Britain and Commonwealth territories and on May 8 in the U.S.—was particularly colorful in New York City. And though the photographs LIFE captured are in black and white, they pulse with the energy of revelry. LIFE described the mood in Manhattan:
The nation could feel proud of itself for the way it acted when the big news came on Monday, May 7. There was a little cheering, a little drinking and a few prayers. There was a great sense of relief and of a dedication to the job ahead. Only in New York was there a real hullabaloo. There wild street celebrations were whitened by snowstorms of paper cascading from buildings in Times Square, Wall Street and Rockefeller Center. Ships on the rivers let go with their sirens. Workers in the garment center threw bales of rayons, silks and woolens into the streets to drape passing cars with bright-colored cloth. Then the workers swarmed out of their shops, singing and dancing, drinking whisky out of bottles, wading in their own weird confetti.
The war, of course, would continue in the Pacific until the surrender of Japan that August, following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But for one day, at least, revelers would celebrate this critical milestone.
Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.