Newsweek on the First Earth Day in 1970

Just after the first Earth Day in 1970, Newsweek called the nationwide festivities “a bizarre national rain dance from sea to oil-slicked sea.” Read the story from our archives, plus see other historic Earth Day covers from the magazine.

Founded by Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson, the First Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. From North Carolina to California, Catholic and Episcopal schoolchildren marched in the streets, some wearing gas masks, while parades filed through cities, including Miami Beach. New York City banned automobiles from Fifth Avenue and 14th Street, and NBC camera crews followed the action in a horse-drawn buggy.

Newsweek’s May 1970 Earth Day Story, Plus More Historic Covers

A week later, Newsweek reported a bit skeptically on the outpouring of support for the planet, noting the massive amounts of additional pollution the celebrations had caused, and wondering if the whole thing would have any meaningful effect on the Earth’s condition. “Something was missing,” the magazine’s story concluded. “Despite the desperate sickness of the environment, despite the turnout of millions of at least partially awakened Americans, the whole demonstration seemed to lack the necessary passion.”