Though there’s some debate about who initially proposed the idea of a day to celebrate America’s workforce at the turn of the 20th century, Labor Day’s tenure as a Federal holiday had a rather rocky impetus. During the summer of 1894 employees of the Pullman Railroad company went on strike and impeded train traffic to protest low wages, effectively shutting down rail service west of Detroit. The Feds, having none of this nonsense quickly and violently intervened by sending 12,000 US Army troops, putting an end to the strike and 30 lives. To try and reunite the country after such a tenuous summer, the Cleveland administration rushed through legislation for a national holiday to celebrate American workers everywhere on the first monday of September. Labor Day was born.
These days we don’t worry so much about the origins but tend to focus more on having one last gasp of summer before our minds shift from weekends on the beach to falling leaves and football. Even though the way we celebrate Labor Day has changed over the past 119 years, we think its worth acknowledging a few superlatives of American manufacturing. With that, here’s a rewind of our salutes to American workers. Happy Labor Day.
|Visiting John Deere Horicon Works
Iconic. When was the last time you didn’t hear the buzzword spouted in a commercial for something from the worlds of automotive, fashion or interior design? The terminology of agricultural equipment and lawn care is an entirely different story. Well, mostly. A certain Deere & Company, founded in 1837 and known colloquially as John Deere, is a rare exception. We paid a visit to their Horicon, Wisconsin factory to find out why. See the Tour »
|Horween Leather: Interview with Nick Horween
Horween Leather has been around since 1905 and is located in Chicago, IL. They produce leathers for a myriad of uses and companies. Their offerings run the gamut from all the NFL and NBA game balls, to those Shell Cordovan Allen Edmonds you wish you had (Shell leather accounts for only 10% of Horween’s production). Recently, Horween’s presence has been more notable than ever in men’s style circles. We recently got to catch up with the man behind this push, Nick Horween, and pick his brain. We found out some interesting history on this American Heritage company, and a peek into what’s next. Read the Interview »
|Canvas & Leather: A Visit to J.W. Hulme
It’s no secret that it’s boom time for American-made heritage products, and companies as diverse as Stormy Kromer, LL Bean and Randolph Engineering are making the most of it. Even within this resurgence of handmade Americana, there is a further niche: Minnesota-made. Maybe it’s the popularity of the urban lumberjack aesthetic or a just a fondness for Midwestern honesty, but there’s no denying that brands from America’s icebox are hotter than ever. We recently got a chance to visit another venerable company nestled right in the gritty urban heart of Minnesota’s capital, St. Paul: J.W. Hulme. We stopped in, hoping to see what this bespoke baggage maker is all about. See the Tour »
|Stepping Back in Time: An Horological Visit to Lancaster, PA
To the casual observer, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with its tidy towns and the waft of manure from plowed fields on the spring breeze, is a far cry from the vaunted watchmaking regions of Europe. But there are similarities between this rolling farmland and the mountain valleys of Switzerland and Germany: a history of rural isolation, strong Puritan work ethic, cold winters, and a history of fine timepieces. Lancaster was home to the Hamilton Watch Company from 1892 until the mid-1980s and was, at one time, producer of some of the finest timepieces in the world. Today it is still a treasure trove of American watchmaking. Read the Story »
|The Ghurka Story
Toward the end of this quick film Walker Macwilliam, creative director of Ghurka and narrator of the video, says Ghurka’s purpose is “making beautiful things out of beautiful leather”. We say that about sums it up perfectly. See the Film »
|The History of the Duluth Pack
Two hours north of Minneapolis, up Interstate 35, after driving through farm and forest, you crest a high hill and the view explodes in your windshield. 1,000 feet below you sits the city of Duluth at the southwest corner of the largest lake in the world, Lake Superior. Its natural harbor is at the mouth of the St. Louis River and Duluth was once one of the busiest shipping ports in the world. The city once boasted the highest concentration of millionaires in the country, mostly shipping, lumber and iron ore barons. Their majestic mansions still line the shoreline of the big lake. Read the Story »
|Silent in Name Only: The Old Town Music Hall and Its Mighty Wurlitzer Organ
Tucked away in the quiet industrial surf town of El Segundo, California, stands a cozy theater that has been around since 1921. Within that theater sits a rare gem, something that most of us no longer associate with movies at all. It’s an organ — a massive one, a 1925 Mighty Wurlitzer, to be exact. And sitting before it, for much of the video above, is Bill Field, the owner and player of this special instrument and place. Watch our Film »