New York’s Garment District, consisting of 18 blocks in the west side of midtown, was the city’s most well known industries in the boom of the 1920s through the early 50s. The influx of immigrants and the geography of New York City made it a natural hub for manufacturing and trading activity. The work began in small workshops and at home in crowded tenements and eventually grew out of these crammed space into factories and warehouses. The industry inadvertently transformed Seventh Avenue into rows of skyscraper factories that faithfully abided to New York City’s zoning regulations. The 125 loft buildings all shared the pyramidal forms due to step-back laws governing design.
Now, The Skyscraper Museum in New York City is celebrating this neighborhood and its influential development of business, industry and architecture and the mark that it left on the city with an exhibition called URBAN FABRIC. It is curated by Andrew S Dolkart, the Director of the Historic Preservation Program, and will be running through February 17th.
Learn more and watch the curator’s lecture after the break.
The skyscraper factories still dominating Seventh Ave in Midtown are no longer the center of the fashion industry in the same sense. It is no longer home to more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs, or small manufacturers and needle-trade workers – pattern-makers, cutters, sewers, pressers, and finishers – that produced nearly 75% of women’s and children’s apparel in the United States. These buildings are so utilitarian that they were built to optimize the allowances of the zoning regulations to create as many sweatshops as possible. The neighborhood exploded with speculative development, launching manufacturers into positions of power in real estate.
For more information on the exhibition, visit The Skyscraper Museum’s official website.