Monday, August 9, 2010

Tenement: Apartment or Workspace?

By the turn of the 20th century, New York City's garment industry had rapidly expanded, employing mostly young, female, immigrant laborers. While factories were often the sites for garment production, tenement apartments also doubled as work spaces. You can read more about the garment industry here. Check out these photographs from the museum's online database that reveal the conditions the workers endured.

Three women sew garments by hand in a tenement apartment. A cast-iron stove is pictured to the left and a fold-up bed is pictured to the right. c. 1890-1920
Three women sewing garments by hand

This illustration, which appeared on the front page of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper on March 15 1894, depicts a well-dressed lady and gentleman from the University Settlement, a reform organization, entering a tenement sweatshop. A bearded man is pictured seated at a sewing machine and several bundles of finished garments appear in the lower right corner of the frame. The caption reads, "WORK OF THE UNIVERSITY SETTLEMENT IN NEW YORK CITY."
Illustration from 'Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper'

Former 97 Orchard Street resident and garment factory-owner Isaac J. Elias (standing left) is pictured beside a long table, at which fifteen women are seated and working at individual sewing machines. Fabric scraps litter the floor. c. 1910-1930
97 Orchard Street resident and garment factory owner Isaac J. Elias

Inside a midtown Manhattan coat manufacturing shop, former 97 Orchard Street resident Rosaria Mutolo Baldizzi is pictured second from the right. Rosaria is the mother of Josephine (Baldizzi) Esposito. c. 1940-1950
Interior of a midtown Manhattan coat manufacturing shop

-posted by Amita

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