Labor Day, which is a federal holiday and is observed every year on the first Monday of September, celebrates and honors the achievements of American workers. The United States Congress rushed legislation to make Labor Day a national holiday after the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshalls during the Pullman strike, a national railroad strike. Labor Day became a federal holiday on June 28, 1894 but was first celebrated in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 where 10,000 workers marched in a parade then gathered with their families for a picnic, concert, and speeches. New York City still marks the holiday with a parade which will take place this year on Saturday, September 12.
The United States can’t take credit for originating a day to honor the labor movement, Canada first celebrated the day in 1872 in Toronto. Many other countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1. Nowadays many Americans celebrate Labor Day by taking advantage of the many retail sales or by spending the unofficial end of summer at a barbecue or at the beach.
This article was originally published within the Nyack Library’s Did You Know Series on September 7, 2015.