Today in History: Earth Day at 40

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Following on the heels of the civil rights and women's rights movements of the '50s and '60s, and the Vietnam War protests, Earth Day brought the environmental movement to classrooms and cities across the country. On this day in 1970, 20 million people took part in the nation-wide day of awareness. Major pieces of environmental legislation like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act were spurred on by the galvanizing influence of Earth Day.

From the WNYC Archives here are some voices from the first Earth Day:

On this 40th anniversary, there are events across the boroughs. Here is a partial list:


Earth Ball Drop, Times Square
Wednesday, April 22, noon
Come watch the official opening of Earth Day 2010 with Denis Hayes, the special guest of honor and Founder of Earth Day. Hayes will discuss The Green Generation, a global initiative that led up to the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Free.

Earth Fair Outside Grand Central Terminal
Friday, April 24 from 12 - 7 p.m. & Saturday, April 25 from 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Celebrate Earth Day with environmentalists, green companies, artists, and musicians. Exhibitions will help educate New Yorkers on how to be more active, green citizens. Free.
Live Music at the Earth Fair.

Earth Day in Central Park
Chess and Checkers House, 64th St., Thursday, April 22 from 2 – 4 p.m.
Bring your family and friends to work with the staff of Chess and Checkers to create eco-friendly crafts. Free.

Harlem Meer Social Hour Celebrations
Charles Dana Discovery Center, Central Park, 6:30 – 8pm
Come learn about Central Park’s 152 different species of trees. They number over 24,000! Free.

Battery Park Celebrations
Various Locations, Battery Park, April 17 – 25
If you go to one place for Earth Day, this should be it. An incredible week of activities, including workshops on recycled art, bird watching, concerts, and education on native views of sustainable food. See full schedule here.

Off the Grid 2010: A Sustainable Music Fest
2420 FDR Drive at 23rd Street, Service Road East, April 24, 4 – 8 p.m.
Join Andrew WK as the MC to a hip green music festival held on a solar-paneled, recycled stage. The festival will include giveaways and educational exhibits. Free.

Stuyvesant Square Community Alliance Earth Day Fair
Stuyvesant Square, E 17th St. at 2nd Ave., April 24, 2010, 12 – 3 p.m.
Earth Day fair featuring local environmental groups and businesses.

NYC Grows
Union Square, 10 – 4 p.m.
New York Restoration Project (NYRP) and partners will host NYC Grows, an annual environmental-themed public festival that helps New Yorkers explore community gardening, urban agriculture, organic cooking, sustainability, and environmental education.

Metro NY-Panel Discussion on Sustainability and Food
Ink 48 Hotel and Print Restaurant (653 11th Ave at 48th), April 28, 6:30 p.m.
Join Williams Metro New York Association for a discussion on the history and relevance of food and its impact on the environment. Guests will have an opportunity to converse with panelists on Print’s rooftop lounge. $25 at door, $20 in advance and for alumni.


Earth Week at the Prospect Park
Audubon Center, Prospect Park, 1 – 4:30 p.m.
Join the Audubon Center in a variety of activities. Calculate your carbon footprint, or learn how to make recycled tote bags and instruments!

11th Annual Gowanus Earth Day Flotilla Clean-up
Gowanus Canal, April 23, 11 – 4 p.m.
The Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy, a local nonprofit environmental and cultural organization, will kick off a series of events including a guided tour to pick up floatable debris along the Gowanus Canal.

Go Green! Greenpoint!
McCarren Park, April 25, 11 – 4 pm
Live music, health and wellness demonstrations, a recycling station, and health food at the Park. There will also be a art, science and writing contest – winners will be announced at the festival.


Seventh Annual Kite Flight
Socrates Sculpture Park, April 25, 11 – 2 p.m.
Build and decorate your own kits out of recycled materials before launching them in the air. Hosted by the Socrates Sculpture Park. Also, enjoy free admission to the Noguchi Museum.

Green for Queens
Sunday, April 25, 1 – 4 p.m.
First Annual Community Earth Day Fair. Information, workshops, and hands-on activities. For kids, the Wildlife Children’s Theater of Central Park Zoo, edible eco-system, and worm composting.

Ho, Ho, Ho, Green Giant
Alley Pond Park Adventure Center, April 25, 11 am
Learn about “Alley Giant”, the largest tulip tree in Long Island. Trees are great!

There are even more activities hosted by NYC Parks.

To read and listen to more Earth Day day content from WNYC,  click here.