Labor Day is often considered the unofficial end of summer, even though the season technically ends on September 23. It’s also associated as the weekend for retail sales/deals, the last day before the fall season begins, the start of the school year, the kickoff of football season, and a new season for tv shows (although perhaps not as much today, given the abundance of streaming platforms). For New Yorkers, it also marks the launch of the fall season for opera, Broadway and symphonies.
In terms of real estate, we can expect to see more open houses post-Labor Day, and it’s also a time when some look to renovate before the onset of harsh winter weather. While the holiday may signify different things to different people, one thing that most Americans overlook or may not know is the genesis of Labor Day back in the late 1800s.
In the 19th century, it was common for employees to work 10-12 hour days, 6 days a week, with the only day off being Sunday. Paid vacations and sick days were nonexistent and breaks during the day were rare. There was no time off allowed for holidays with the exception of Christmas, and maybe Thanksgiving. Compensation was meager and working conditions in most factories and workplaces were horrible.
It wasn’t until workers began striking for better wages and improved working conditions that labor movements began to emerge. Nearly two decades later, the first Labor Day Parade was held here in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. Around 10,000 workers took unpaid leave to march from City Hall up through Union Square where speeches and rallies were held up to Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd St and 9th Ave for a concert, more speeches, and festivities for the entire family.
The success of the celebratory parade and holiday caught on with labor unions in other cities, and it soon became known as the “working man’s holiday”. By 1886, legislation was in the works to make the day a state holiday, and New York State was among the first to write such legislation. By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday. Congress then passed a bill that was signed into law by President Grover Cleveland on June 28, 1894, declaring the first Monday in September of each year as Labor Day, a national holiday.
While many of you may be familiar with the history of Labor Day, I thought it would be fun and interesting to revisit it as we make our way into the holiday weekend and usher in the Fall season.
Have a safe and enjoyable LDW!