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Garment District

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Although hardly one square mile, this small district, anchored by the Jacob Javits center at the extreme west, the General Post Office, Penn Station, and Madison Square Garden in the Center, and the Empire State Building in the east, has an extraordinary concentration of industry. The lobby of the Empire State Building is well worth wandering around, with phenomenal 1930s-style murals and wall art reflecting the power of the Empire State of yesteryear. Similarly, the General Post Office, which eventually will be transformed into Moynihan Station, has an extraordinary interior and was designed by the famous firm of McKim, Mead & White.

While New York’s days as the textile-manufacturing capital of America may be over, it remains the fashion capital for designers, couture houses and showrooms. The 7th on Sixth Fashion Week held in Bryant Park is but one annual tribute to all the amazing behind-the-scenes work in the fashion industry.

Although rapid globalization from the 1960s to the 1980s saw a tremendous movement to offshore production facilities, there are indeed still many sweatshops in New York churning out clothes, some in the Garment District, some scattered around Chinatown and other locations. Indeed, the history of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and labor activism stems from the horrible 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, when 146 garment workers died. In recent years, there has been intense scrutiny of the industry, and the US Labor Department has been continually investigating suspect business practices. Meanwhile, the strong economy has given to new vitality to avant-garde couture as in few periods before.