Mount Vernon Square in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
For the Working People
Midcity at the Crossroads
—Shaw Heritage Trail —
"There is not a wrong too long endured that we are not determined to abolish." Samuel Gompers.
This large office building opened in 1916 as the headquarters of the American Federation of Labor. With 2.5 million members, this union was the nation's largest and most powerful. The building's design by Milburn, Heister & Co. symbolized the union's maturity and strength.
The AF of L's first president was London-born Samuel Gompers (1850-1924). Gompers immigrated to New York in 1863, became a cigar maker and, in 1873, president of the Cigar Makers Union Local 144. When a number of unions formed the American Federation of Labor in 1886, they elected Gompers president, a position he held until his death. A memorial to Gompers is found nearby at 10th Street and Massachusetts Avenue. The AFL-CIO moved to 18th Street in 1956, and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitters Industry took its place here.
Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, across the intersection in 1917 for a congregation dating from 1869. In 1935 as the population of nearby Chinatown was peaking, the church invited the Chinese Community Church to share its space. A year later, the church developed the Mount Vernon Players. This drama group welcomed racially integrated audiences when most Washington
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 2 of 17.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
Location. 38° 54.182′ N, 77° 1.425′ W. Marker is in Mount Vernon Square, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of Mount Vernon Place, NW (U.S. 1) and 9th Street, NW (U.S. 1), on the right when traveling west on Mount Vernon Place, NW. Touch for map. Marker is on the sidewalk at the southwest corner of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Marker is at or near this postal address: 801 Mount Vernon Place, Washington DC 20001, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Central Public Library (within shouting distance of this marker); Words and Deeds (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Power Brokers (approx. 0.2 miles away); Morrison-Clark Inn (approx. 0.2 miles away); Blanche K. Bruce House Asbury United Methodist Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Reaching for Equality (approx. ¼ mile away); The Messer Building (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mount Vernon Square.
More about this marker. [Photo Captions:]
Samuel Gompers breaks ground for his union's new headquarters (The George Meany Memorial Archives).
On the AF of L's building, photographed in 1916, you can see the union's seal (The George Meany Memorial Archives).
Mount Vernon Players build a set for their outdoor theater production of Shakespeare in Shirtsleeves on the church plaza, 1947 (The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.).
Arena Stage founders Zelda Fichandler and Edward Mangum on opening night at the old Hippodrome movie theater, 1950 (The Washington Post).
Rev. Carroll Gunkel greets Alan and Beatrice Tok at the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 1994 (The Washington Post).
Regarding For the Working People. The American Federation of Labor building was designated an National Historic Landmark in 1974.
Additional keywords. Chinese-Americans AFL Building National Historic Landmark
Categories. • Churches & Religion • Entertainment • Labor Unions •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 26, 2017. This page originally submitted on August 22, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,061 times since then and 3 times this year. Last updated on September 21, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 22, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.