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From the Archives: Celebrating Labor Day, 1936-1948

From the Archives: Celebrating Labor Day, 1936-1948
Sept. 6, 1937: About 50,000 Los Angeles area workers march in the annual Labor Day parade on Spring Street in a photo taken from Los Angeles City Hall. (Los Angeles Times)

For years, major parades in downtown Los Angeles marked Labor Day, which is held the first Monday of every September and honors the American labor movement.

Following the Sept. 6, 1937, Labor Day parade, a Los Angeles Times article reported:

Combining colorful pageantry with sheer numbers, Los Angeles units of the American Federation of Labor yesterday staged the most demonstrative Labor Day celebration in their history.

"There must have been 50,000 marchers," declared Secretary J.W. Buzzell of Central Labor Council.

"A very wonderful parade and the nicest thing about Los Angeles' celebration was that it was all peaceful and in good spirit," Mayor Frank L. Shaw commented after the last of the marchers had passed the reviewing stand.

Whatever the number of the marchers, it took them exactly one hour and 45 minutes to pass the City Hall reviewing stand over a line 15 blocks long.

How many persons stood along the line of marchers to witness the union demonstration could only be widely estimated, but it must have run into the hundreds of thousands.

In all, 191 units of the council participated. There were more than 50 floats and 23 bands.

Sept. 7, 1936: Thirty-five thousand workers march in the Labor Day parade on Broadway. This photo was
Sept. 7, 1936: Nearly 40,000 workers march in the Labor Day parade on Broadway in 1936. Los Angeles Times
Sept. 5, 1938: The American Federation of Musicians float in the Labor Day parade. An estimated 70,00
Sept. 5, 1938: A float sponsored by the American Federation of Musicians rolls along in the 1938 Labor Day parade. An estimated 70,000 people marched. Los Angeles Times
Sept. 4, 1939: Majorette leads band at Seventh and Broadway during annual Labor Day parade.
Sept. 4, 1939: A majorette leads a band at 7th and Broadway during the 1939 Labor Day parade. Los Angeles Times
Sep. 1, 1941: Letter carriers and postal clerks had both marching units and float in the Labor Day p
Sept. 1, 1941: Letter carriers and postal clerks had both marching units and a float in the 1941 Labor Day parade. The Times estimated that 150,000 marched in the parade, which took six hours to pass the reviewing stand at Los Angeles City Hall. Los Angeles Times
Sep. 7, 942: Members of the Meat Cutters Union, Local No. 421, line up at the door of Blood Bank dur
Sept. 7, 1942: Members of the Meat Cutters Union, Local No. 421, line up at the door of a blood bank on Labor Day 1942. Los Angeles Times
Sep. 6, 1943: World War II Labor Day "parade" consisted to workers at Los Angeles Shipbuilding & Dr
Sept. 6, 1943: The Labor Day "parade" during World War II consisted of workers at the Los Angeles and Dry Dock Corp. in San Pedro heading to lunch. Los Angeles Times
Sep. 4, 1944: California State Guard troopers demonstrate their training during El Monte's Labor Day
Sept. 4, 1944: California State Guard troopers demonstrate their training during El Monte's Labor Day parade. Los Angeles Times
Sep. 2, 1946: On the Labor Day parade reviewing stand at Los Angeles City Hall are left to right, W.
Sept. 2, 1946: On the Labor Day parade reviewing stand at Los Angeles City Hall are, from left: W.J. Bassett, secretary-treasurer of the Central Labor Council; Dist. Atty. Fred Howser; D.D. McClurg, grand marshal of the A.F.L. parade; and Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz. Phil Bath / Los Angeles Times
Sep. 1, 1947: The Longshoremen are one of the largest groups in the C.I.O. Labor Day parade proceedi
Sept. 1, 1947: The longshoremen are one of the largest groups in the Congress of Industrial Organization's Labor Day parade on Broadway. In separate parades, the American Federation of Labor had about 45,000 participants, while the Congress of Industrial Organization had 40,000. Los Angeles Times
Sep. 6, 1948: The American Federation of Labor Color Guard leads the Labor Day Parade on Spring Stre
Sept. 6, 1948: The American Federation of Labor Color Guard leads the Labor Day parade on Spring Street in front of Los Angeles City Hall in 1948. Phil Bath / Los Angeles Times

See more from the Los Angeles Times archives here

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