Illustration of a hand close-up, holding onto a subway strap with subway car windows in the background. White ring around outer edge of the button with red text.
Union bug. Button made by The Whitehead & Hoag Co. Newark, N.J., U.S. Pat. April 14, 1896, July 21, 1896.
The Strap Hangers League was started in Chicago by streetcar passengers around the year 1903. An article in the San Francisco Call, on March 5, 1903, explains that a few men initially created the league as a joke. The men wanted to start a movement for all fare-paying customers to have a seat on the streetcars. Although initially a joke the league quickly grew in members and spread to other cities such as New York. Buttons were created throughout the life of the league so that league members could demonstrate their membership. It appears that later on in the history of the league the membership was concerned with receiving better services. A small advertisement in The News of Des Moines, Iowa, on July 21, 1920, explained that the United Strap Hangers of Toledo were selling buttons to raise funds for better services on streetcars.