Labor Day was created as a federal holiday in 1894, and according to the US Department of Labor, is a national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. The first Labor Day celebration took place in New York City in 1882, when workers marched from City Hall to Union Square, which has traditionally been a place to air dissent. Early Labor Day celebrations often took place among some serious unrest as the fledging union movement worked to improve workers’ rights. Today, most of us celebrate the holiday as a weekend of rest and relaxation, the last (unofficial) day of summer. For those of you sticking close to home this weekend, there is plenty going on in the neighborhood.
The Washington Square Outdoor Art Exhibit, which runs from Saturday through Monday and again next weekend, has been running since 1931! You can peruse a wide selection of from University Place on East 12th Street along the southern and eastern sides of Washington Square Park to Third Street, from noon to 6 p.m. Check out the history of this semiannual event, and get more details, here.
Two street fairs will take place in the Village this Labor Day weekend. The Andrew Glover Youth Program Street Fair takes place on Saturday on Fourth Avenue, between 8th and 14th Streets. On Sunday the Broadway Street Fair will line Broadway from Waverly Place to 14th Street. Both go on from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Feel like communing with nature but can’t make it out of town? Check out one of the many small community gardens in the East Village. You can find a list of gardens here.
Want to learn more about the Labor History of the Village? NYC Discovery Tours and Big Onion tours will offer tours that explore events such as the first Labor Day parade, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, and labor activists such as Emma Goldman and Clara Lemlich. More information for the Big Onion Labor Day tour can be found here. Call(212) 465-3331 for the NYC Discovery Tours taking place on Saturday and Sunday.
Want to learn more but the thought of all that walking is too labor intensive? You can peruse these past Off the Grid posts on labor activism. Learn more about labor sites associated with the Village here, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire here, activist Emma Goldman here, and early labor organizer Justus Schwab here.
Enjoy the Labor Day weekend and we’ll see you back here on Off the Grid on Tuesday.