However, both previous records were set in 2007, before the financial crisis that scalded Wall Street and triggered a near global recession that displaced millions of jobs around the world, and CNBC noted that, adjusting for inflation, the Dow would have had to reach 15,731.54 Tuesday to break the record.
The Washington Post noted that, adjusting for inflation, the Dow Tuesday was well below its all-time high, set in 2000.
Economic problems abound, but stocks have been on the rebound for two years, culminating in Tuesday's new high-water mark.
Jack Ablin, chief investment officer for BMO Private Bank, based in Chicago, told The Wall Street Journal the Dow's performance "really does represent an achievement that we have climbed out of this crater."
By close of trading, the Dow added 125.95 points, or 0.89 percent, to reach 14,253.77 -- eclipsing its previous closing peak of 14,164.53, recorded Oct. 9, 2007.
The blue-chip index, a select listing of 30 of the country's trend-setting corporations, had posted its second-highest close Monday, finishing at 14,127.82.
The Dow was pushed Tuesday by solid gains in Asia and Europe, following an announcement by China that it plans to maintain a growth target of 7.5 percent for 2013 with increased spending, and a report that U.S. services-oriented businesses grew in January, although at a slower pace than in December.
The Standard and Poor's 500 index added 14.59 points or 0.96 percent to 1,539.79. The Nasdaq composite gained 42.10 points or 1.32 percent to 3,224.13.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 2,252 stocks advanced, 804 declined and 101 were unchanged on a volume of 3.5 billion shares traded.
The 10-year U.S. treasury note fell 6/32 to yield 1.9 percent.
Against the dollar the euro was higher at $1.3048 from Monday's $1.3026. Against the yen, the dollar was down to 93.30 yen from 93.48 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.27 percent on a gain of 31.16 points, to 11,683.45.
In London, the FTSE 100 index added 1.36 percent, 86.32 points, to 6,431.95.