Garment workers and their unions, particularly the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU) and the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU), played a formative role in New York City labor history, as depicted in these panels.
Commissioned by UNITE (formed by the merger of these two unions in 1995), these plaques were designed by the artist Gregg Lefevre, in collaboration with the union and the Parks Department, and are based on historical images and research.
The plaques are a special part of a larger project to commemorate the history of Union Square with a timeline of historical plaques installed in a circle on the perimeter of the square. The first stage of that project is complete, starting with a plaque on the east side of the square that shows Native American Settlements on Manhattan Island and ending with a plaque on the west side of the square that commemorates the first labor day parade in 1882. The labor history plaques depicted in this exhibit will eventually be incorporated into the second half of the timeline, which will cover the twentieth century, and complete the circle around the park.