The Dow hits 30,000 for the first time ever: These charts show just how far the markets have come

November is on pace to be the Dow's best month since 1987 and fourth-best overall since 1940.

Kiersten Schmidt

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 30,046.24 Tuesday, marking the first time the blue-chip index closed above 30,000 in its history. Earlier in the day, it crossed that threshold for the first time.

Stocks have soared this month amid positive vaccine news, optimism for a strong economic recovery in 2021, and reduced political uncertainty, as well as the announcement that President-elect Joe Biden will nominate as Treasury secretary Janet Yellen, who oversaw a long economic recovery while serving as Federal Reserve Chair.

The Dow is up 1.54% so far this week, while the S&P 500 is up 1.62% and the Nasdaq Composite, 1.31%. The S&P 500 also closed at a record on Tuesday.

Stocks have rebounded after falling dramatically at the onset of the pandemic in March. The S&P 500 marked a new bull market when it set a record in August, just five months after plummeting 34% in 33 days. The Dow is up 62% since hitting its low point on March 23.

"This is yet another reminder of how far stocks and the economy have come since the depths of March," Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, said in an emailed statement. "Although 30,000 isn't much different than 29,999, there is something special about those big milestone numbers."

The Dow is price-weighted, meaning the index's value is calculated based on the share prices of the 30 blue-chip company stocks it tracks. So major tech companies have less of an influence on the overall index compared with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite, whose values are based on the market capitalization of their members. This explains why it has trailed the others during the market's pandemic recovery, which has been led by the big tech companies.

The latest milestone in a historic surge

The Dow closed above 20,000 for the first time on January 25, 2017. From that date, it took just 1,399 days for the index to hit 30,000, and 2,758 days for it to double from 15,000.

For comparison, it took 6,512 days to go from 10,000 to 20,000.

Dow Jones Industrial Average since 1970
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Leading the way since the 20,000 mark have been tech giants Apple and Microsoft, whose share prices have surged 278% and 236%, respectively, in that time. Salesforce, Nike, and Visa round out the Dow's top five performers.

Top performers in the Dow since January 25, 2017
kiersten schmidt/grow YChartse

The look of the Dow has changed since that last milestone. In June 2018, Walgreens Boots Alliance replaced GE, once the world's largest company by market cap, in the blue-chip index. And a big shakeup in response to Apple's announcement of a stock split took effect in August with Amgen, Salesforce, and Honeywell replacing Pfizer, Exxon Mobil, and Raytheon Technologies.

November is also on pace to be the Dow's best month since 1987 and fourth-best overall since 1940. This would be the second month this year that the Dow jumped more than 10% after gaining 11.1% in April.

Performance for the Dow's best months since 1940
kiersten schmidt/grow YCharts