On March 15, 1887, Colorado's Sixth General Assembly passed a law designating the first Monday in September as a holiday honoring workers. Less than a month earlier, Oregon had been the first state to create an official labor holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed legislation that made Labor Day a federal holiday on June 28, 1894.
The Rocky Mountain News from September 6, 1887, covered Denver's Labor Day festivities. Trains left at 10:30 a.m. for a celebration held at Argo Park. It was reported that around 2,000 people — "representatives of the various labor organizations and those in sympathy with them" — attended. They listened to a band play at the pavilion and to speeches given by Governor Adams and Mayor Carr.
The newspaper went on to describe how Colorado's first official Labor Day was "celebrated with a genuine heartiness and enthusiasm:"
...Dapper dudes faultlessly dressed and exquisitely perfumed sought with varying degrees of success to make mashes on handsome unattended females. Family parties gathered about the tables in the shade of the trees and ate their lunches...
...Young men bought at the lunch house ham, veal and cheese sandwiches and coffee for their best girls, and thanked a considerate Providence that the oyster and the ice cream man by some mysterious dispensation had not made his appearance on the grounds.
Men in twos and threes and so on swallowed beer at the bar, and parties of the two sexes sipped the same amber beverage at the tables about the grounds. The swings were well patronized by the younger men and girls.
Is it us or does Denver's Labor Day 1887 sound a lot like Labor Day 2015?
**Learn more about Denver's fascinating past by visiting DPL's Western History/Genealogy Department!**