Celebrate Labor Day!

Celebrate Labor Day!
Webster Hall, East 11th Street

For many people, Labor Day means one last trip to the beach or pool before the unofficial end of summer. Or some need to finish their back-to-school shopping, so it means a day at the stores. How you spend your Labor Day is up to you, but here at Off the Grid we are well aware that right here in Greenwich Village and the East Village, the early labor movement stirred.

[source Wikipedia] May Day 1913, strikers and protesters rally in Union Square, with signs in Yiddish, Italian and English

[source Wikipedia] May Day 1913, strikers and protesters rally in Union Square, with signs in Yiddish, Italian and English

We have written before about Webster Hall on East 11th street between 3rd and 4th Avenues, a concert venue today – and one of our favorite buildings – but at one time it was an important center of the labor movement. You can read more about that and see some great old photos here.

Webster Hall, East 11th Street

Webster Hall, East 11th Street

A few blocks away, East 4th Street, between 2nd Avenue and the Bowery is where you’ll find some beautiful buildings that reflect the German immigrant community of the mid-1800s. Today it’s known for many performing arts venues, but according to the Fourth Arts Block (FAB) website the late 19th and early 20th century saw many union and social club meeting halls on this block.

And it was in Union Square that the nation’s first Labor Day Parade took place.

Many of the people whose activism was key to the labor movement lived or worked in our neighborhoods: Emma Goldman, Jacob Riis, Justus Schwab, Rose Pastor Stokes. You can read more about them in some past blog posts here.

Let’s salute the many American workers in health care, transportation, retail and other vital public services who don’t get a day off. And let’s remember that this neighborhood helped to put the “Labor” in “Labor Day” in the first place.

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Ted
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Ted is the Director of Programs at GVSHP.

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