Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day

Around this time last year, I was a little surprised to find out that May Day, May 1st is celebrated internationally as Labor Day. I was talking to someone from London who had the day off, and as we discussed the origins and differences between the American and British holiday calenders, I realized that May Day was, in part, a commemoration of the "Haymarket Riots" that occurred in Chicago. All the fuss was about the eight hour work day, which is something that we tend to take for granted today. I have to put the word "riots" in quotes, because it's not clear to me that it was really a riot. Both sides seem questionable to me.

Just now, I was reading on Wikipedia about the significant historical events that fell on May 1st, and that led to an article about May Day. Two Chicago-related events: the "general strike" mentioned above in 1886, and the opening of the World's Columbian Exposition, which is the backdrop of the novel, The Devil in the White City.

The Wikipedia link to the Columbian Exposition has an interesting section about electricity at the Fair, and mentions Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse. By the way, Chicago's Westinghouse High School is near Garfield Park. It's probably not more than 1 to 1.5 miles from my house.

I love Chicago.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Michael,Your account of May Day interesting.Ever wonder why May 1st
in the US is referred to as Law Day?With my camera I've been shooting May Day rallies in Chicago
since the 80's.I've always considered myself a sympathiser.A few years ago the Marxists had their rally in Pulaski Park.They did not like me most of all my camera.On stage they spoke of liberation and the facists tactics
of the bosses.Iwas phisically escorted from the park by the same people who spoke of freedom and liberation.Peace

11:12 AM