Labor Day Strike Tour
Looking at this with fresh eyes, I think I am not going to include the Homestead and East Liberty sets in this. Since we will likely have a few new/different people on this, I think it makes sense to do part of the 2015 path in reverse. Start at Arsenal Park, pick up the Howling Mob Society marker at Liberty/39th first, then roll down to Lib/28th and so through the several points in the Strip. I would love to see the ones downtown but the Labor Day Parade will be in full swing. We can probably get to the 9th St Bridge without getting close to the parade or its staging area, and then see the points on the North Side.
Yes, but meeting at the park, just up 40th St a bit. The Susie tree is next to the flagpole. When we roll, we will go out the 39th St side and climb to the parking lot on the park side of the Lib/39th corner.
The chance of rain looks to be zero all day, with temperature around 70.
Ok, Since buses will be running on a Sunday Schedule, The bus leaves Aspinwall at 7:56 AM and 8:41 AM. These will arrive at Butler St. past 40th St. at 8:13 AM and 8:58 AM respectively. Since buses often run late, which of these buses should I get?
We had three on the ride! Thanks to Lori and Zack for joining me. I made a feeble attempt to roll video for a couple of the spots, but it did not turn out well.
We were able to get downtown to look at the AFL historical marker then rolled up to Grant Street to watch the parade for about 20 minutes. That was about enough, too. But it was useful to work in some parade viewing along with the history, to tie it all together.
It’s time to think about this again. On this go-around I want to tackle some of the central and eastern points of Map 3.0 (see above). I also want to get some external people involved — historians, labor folk who don’t feel obligated to do the parade, teachers, maybe even a few students (either HS or college) with an interest.
No solid plans as of yet, though probably start at Arsenal Park (near 40th/Butler). Lightning or chance of storms cancels, but a little light rain does not, same as any parade. Plan and dress accordingly.
Monday, Sept 2, get there by 9:30, tires roll at 10. Intended to be in perfect conflict with the parade to avoid traffic (because everyone will be downtown).
Raisin’ the flag, who will salute?
I have a small book.pamphlet ‘Labor History Sites in the Pittsburgh Region’ that showcases said sites. They have created an interactive map of the sites which can help plan a ride:
Regarding getting historians involved, Charlie McCollestor (co-author of the pamphlet as well as author of The Point of Pittsburgh…a history of Pgh from the labor perspective) is probably the most knowledgeable local labor historian. I’m not sure if he bikes, or if he is available, but we may be able to reach out to him along the route…
I actually did show up for this, but as expected got no takers. I did zero promotion other than this brief mention.
The Howling Mob Society marker at Liberty and 39th is gone. I’m pretty sure it was there in 2017.
Any takers? 9:30 a.m. Monday, Arsenal Park, 40th St above Butler. We’ll do Part 2 of the 2015 plan, there to Pump House.
I’ve mentioned this in a couple places on Facebook and Twitter. At 7:40pm Sunday, no solid takers but there have been a few shares and retreats, so this is still a go.
Nobody showed, but I did the ride anyway. Starting at Arsenal Park, I rode to 26th and Spring Way, via Butler and Penn. There, a Howling Mob Society marker still stands, noting the destruction of the 26th St Roundhouse. In 2015, on a similar ride, a Howling Mob marker still stood at Railroad and 23rd St but I did not see it. The signs at 21st and Smallman, and 21st and Penn, are also gone. But the one on Penn just towards downtown from 17th St is still there. The short story on those is, if a few busted storefronts, and some graffiti and looting, in 2020, bother you, you would have a hard time believing how much destruction happened here in 1877.
Downtown, a brief stop at the American Federation of Labor (the AFL) marker on Sixth Avenue at Mellon Park. From there, down Sixth Ave, left on Liberty, right on Sixth St, across the Sixth/Clemente Bridge, then a hook down into Allegheny Landing park, where we find the marker for the cotton mill strikes of 1845 and 1848.
Three of the sites today feature primarily women: the 1862 explosion at the Arsenal, where the ride started, at which on Sept 17 1862 (same day as the Battle of Antietam), 78 mostly women were killed in a series of gunpowder explosions. The second is this marker, one of the first labor strikes in the U.S. led by women, who finally got the state to pass a law limiting the work day to 10 hours, and 12 a minimum age for workers.
The third site primarily concerning women is what is now The Pannier Company (which doesn’t manufacture panniers, as best I can tell). On Oct 25 1915, a fire in this building (still standing) killed 13 of the 30 people who worked there, 12 of them women. This tragedy resulted in improvements to safety in workplaces.
From there, a quick ride to the corner of Merchant St and West Ohio St, where stands the statue to Thomas A Armstrong, a printer who publicized the plight of the laborer and helping get the word out to help organize workers, in the 1870s.
Last, a stop at the Council of Industrial Organizations marker by the MLKing school, on North Commons across from Allegheny Center’s campus. The CIO split off from the AFL in the 1930s based on a philosophical difference on how workers should be represented. They remained split until 1955, when they joined forces to form today’s AFL-CIO.
I rode mostly on streets – Cedar Ave, River Ave, 31st St Bridge, Spring Way and Butler St to return to my car parked on 40th St.
Someday, I’ll figure out how to drum up some proper interest in this ride. The whole thing took about two hours. I left around 10, was back a bit after noon. I didn’t try to pick up the McKees Rocks or Homestead extremes, or other spots around downtown or the Hill. Too much to do. But I think that this little set can whet the appetite for anyone interested in learning anything about labor history, and provide a jumping off point for anyone desiring to delve further into it.
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