The First Labor Day Parade
On September 5, 1882, some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City to participate in America's first Labor Day parade.
After marching from City Hall, past reviewing stands in Union Square, and then uptown to 42nd Street, the workers and their families gathered in Wendel's Elm Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches. This first Labor Day celebration was eagerly organized and executed by New York’s Central Labor Union, an umbrella group made up of representatives from many local unions. Debate continues to this day as to who originated the idea of a workers' holiday, but it definitely emerged from the ranks of organized labor at a time when they wanted to demonstrate the strength of their burgeoning movement and inspire improvements in their working conditions.
New York's Labor Day celebrations inspired similar events across the country. Oregon became the first state to grant legal status to the holiday in 1887; other states soon followed. In 1894, Congress passed legislation making Labor Day a national holiday.
For many decades, Labor Day was viewed by workers not only as a means to celebrate their accomplishments, but also as a day to air their grievances and discuss strategies for securing better working conditions and salaries. Nowadays, Labor Day is associated less with union activities and protest marches and more with leisure. For many, the holiday is a time for family picnics, sporting events, and summer's last hurrah.
Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September (on September 7 in 2009).
The holiday originated in 1882 as the Central Labor Union of New York City sought to create "a day off for the working citizens." Congress made Labor Day a federal holiday on June 28, 1894, two months after the May Day Riots of 1894. May 4 was chosen to remember the Haymarket Affair. All 50 U.S. states have additionally made Labor Day a state holiday.
Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer.
Labor Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September in the United States since the 1880s. The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday—a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations," followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.