May Day, New York City In The Past And Today

Those Old May Day Gatherings In New York

SOCIALISTS HOLD MAY DAY CELEBRATION IN CENTRAL PARK – Shown above is a general scene showing the large crowd of socialists as they listened to the speakers during the meeting held in Central Park, New York City on May Day. (May 1, 1935 credit: Acme)

Today is May Day which for anyone who went to elementary school in New York City pre-1980 used to be a joyous holiday, celebrated by dancing around a Maypole.

May Day, a centuries old Pagan holiday whose origins and meaning are debated, is now a day of protest. In many parts of England, Wales, Germany and a few other European countries, the Maypole dance and tradition continues. In the United States the day has sunk into a free-for-all for any group to call attention to all their perceived slights and injustices.

In the late 19th century May Day began to be associated with organized marches and assemblies for worker’s rights, unions and socialism. By the 1930s, communists took the day as theirs to celebrate.

Today you will not see any New York City school children doing Maypole dances.

Brooklyn May Day celebration 10,000 girls at Prospect Park 1919

You will not see the veterans of foreign wars praising the freedoms of the United States and protesting communists.

VETERANS HOLD RALLY ON MAY DAY – Photo shows general view of crowd in Union Square , New York City, scene of recent Communist riots, to participate in rally held by the Veterans of Foreign Wars on May 1st. Later the Reds held a demonstration at the same spot. (May 1, 1930 credit P&A photos)

You probably will not see communists marching. But in truth they will be, they just don’t call themselves “communists” anymore.

REDS HOLD PEACEFUL MAY DAY CELEBRATION IN NEW YORK – A view from 27th Street on Fifth Avenue during the Communist parade toward Union Square, their favorite meeting place, for their annual May Day demonstration. Both Communist and Socialist demonstrations were peaceful with no disorders reported. (May 1, 1935 credit: Acme)

And though war remains a current subject, you will definitely not see parents assembling to demand more playgrounds, over battlegrounds for youth.

HEY! PAY ATTENTION TO THE SIGN – The significance of this sign apparently failed to penetrate to the audience during yesterday’s May Day rally in New York’s Union Square. Youths mauled each other in a brief scuffle while teh sign carrier tried to get into the act. The rally sponsored by the United Labor and People’s Committee for May Day, was concentrated in Union Square after police banned the traditional parade which preceded the speeches in recent years. (May 2, 1953 credit: AP wirephoto)

Instead you will see people protesting everything Trump, You will see anarchists at an anti-capitalism gathering. There will be some protests against the police. Of course you will see illegal immigration being sanctioned under the guise of “you’re against all immigrants and immigration.”

With all this discontent it might be nice to see one Maypole dance.

1 thought on “May Day, New York City In The Past And Today

  1. R. L.

    I loved B.P.’s article about “The Original Yankee Stadium.” Some DREAMS CAN STILL COME TRUE after 40 some years. There is a section of (3) wooden folding, light blue, footed metal frame seats from Yankee Stadium for sale if B.P. is still interested in fulfilling his DREAMS. The backs of the seats have black numbers “6”, “5” and “4” stenciled on them.

    (There is some rust and wear to the finish of the seats and seat #6 is missing one of it’s front legs.)

    Contact me if your interested in seeing pictures of the seats.



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