An illustration of the first Labor Day parade, via Wiki Commons
Though Labor Day has been embraced as a national holiday–albeit one many Americans don’t know the history of–it originated right here in New York City as a result of the city’s labor unions fighting for worker’s rights throughout the 1800s. The event was first observed, unofficially, on Tuesday, September 5th, 1882, with thousands marching from City Hall up to Union Square. At the time, the New York Times considered the event to be unremarkable. But 137 years later, we celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of every September as a tribute to all American workers. It’s also a good opportunity to recognize the hard-won accomplishments of New York unions to secure a better workplace for us today.
Keep reading for the full history
Photo by John Saeyong Ra via Flickr cc
After Macy’s announced yesterday that their annual July 4th Fireworks display in NYC would go on despite the pandemic, headlined by John Legend, Mayor de Blasio said in his press conference today that the show will take on a new life this year. There will be five-minute “brief but mighty” bursts of fireworks throughout the five boroughs from June 29th through July 1st, culminating in a finale on Saturday, July 4th, which will be televised from the top of the Empire State Building. On their website, Macy’s says they “expect to announce details of the reimagined event soon.”
Get the scoop
Photo by Erick Zajac on Unsplash
Juneteenth has been observed by African Americans nationwide for more than 150 years as a celebration of the day enslaved Black people were liberated in the United States. This year, as Black Lives Matter demonstrations continue across New York City, the holiday takes on special significance as a day of action, reflection, and education. New York officials are recognizing the weight of the anniversary by making Juneteenth an official state holiday and a city holiday, set to be observed by public schools next year. Although the festivals and cookouts of the past are on hold this year in light of the coronavirus, there are many virtual and socially distanced events happening across the city, from a digital day of dance to a cyclist-led Freedom Ride.
See the list
Photo of New York State Capitol by wadester16 on Flickr
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed an executive order recognizing Juneteenth as a holiday for state employees and said he will introduce legislation to make it an official New York State holiday next year. Juneteenth marks the end of slavery in the United States in 1865 and is celebrated annually on June 19.
Details this way
Photo by Maddi Bazzocco on Unsplash
Most of us are celebrating this Mother’s Day from a distance, but that doesn’t mean it has to be any less special. Ahead, we’ve put together more than 30 gift ideas that will brighten mom’s day whether she’s near or far. From the mom looking to get zen to the mom who loves to cook (or eat!) to all the bookworm mamas, we’ve found a little something for everyone, with some special NYC-themed treats to boot.
Check out the whole gift guide
Photo from last year’s parade, by Phil Roeder via Flickr cc
While it won’t be an actual procession, this year’s annual New York City Easter Parade and Bonnet Festival will take place virtually on Sunday, April 12. The festive event dates back to the 1870s but was, of course, canceled this year due to the coronavirus crisis. But the Fifth Avenue Association is taking it to Instagram, encouraging participants to “dress up in their most creative, home-crafted Easter outfits, strike a pose in quintessential Fifth Avenue style and participate in a virtual parade.”
Photo of White Horse Tavern (bottom left) courtesy of Wikimedia; Photo of the Merchant’s House Museum (bottom right) courtesy of Village Preservation on Flickr
For many, celebrating Irish American heritage in March brings one to Fifth Avenue for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, or perhaps a visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. But for those willing to venture beyond Midtown, there’s a rich Irish American history to be found in Greenwich Village and the East Village. While both neighborhoods became better known for different kinds of communities in later years – Italians, Ukrainians, gay men and lesbians, artists, punks – Irish immigration in the mid-19th century profoundly shaped both neighborhoods. Irish Americans and Irish immigrants played a critical role in building immigrant and artistic traditions in Greenwich Village and the East Village. Here are some sites connected to that great heritage, from the city’s oldest intact Catholic Church to Irish institutions like McSorely’s Old Ale House.
Image by David Mark from Pixabay
St. Patrick’s Day takes place on Tuesday, March 17 this year but in NYC, it’s much bigger than just the official holiday. Celebrations get an early start and run throughout the month with a whopping nine parades dedicated to the holiday (some have already taken place but you still have plenty to choose from). Of course, many of the festivities are known for being raucous and alcohol-fueled, but there are many other ways you can celebrate: from taking a walking tour in the former “Little Ireland” area of the Lower East Side, to learning how to bake Irish soda bread and shamrock macaroons, to getting competitive in an Irish-themed trivia night. Ahead, we rounded up 20 options and none of them involve waking up early to snag a seat at McSorley’s.
Start your planning now!
Image by jacqueline macou from Pixabay
You don’t have to travel to New Orleans to get in on the Mardi Gras festivities; New York City has some fun Fat Tuesday events of its own (though they may be a tad tamer than what you’ll find in Louisiana!). From brass bands and jazz performances to crawfish boils and King Cake, we’ve rounded up 20+ great ways to celebrate Mardis Gras this year.
Start making plans
Photo: Jonathan Blanc/NYPL
Forget the roses and chocolate, spend this Valentine’s Day enjoying a new book. As part of its 125th-anniversary celebration, the New York Public Library on Friday released an expertly-curated list of 125 books that inspire a love of reading. A team of librarians spent a year debating and choosing its 125 Books We Love list, which includes fiction and non-fiction titles published after May 23, 1895, the year the library was incorporated.
The full list, here