The Garment Center Through the Ages

A look at the Garment Center through the years.

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1910: The Garment District centered around Madison Square, but opposition came from the Save New York Committee that wanted to maintain the tony atmosphere of the nearby shops on Fifth Avenue known as the Ladies’ Mile.

This story first appeared in the September 8, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

1919: Two sites along Seventh Avenue between West 36th and 38th Streets developed by the Garment Capitol Co., an association of 38 women’s apparel manufacturers, soon revitalized the vice-ridden area known as the Tenderloin.

1921-1926: More than $125 million was invested in constructing buildings such as 1372 Broadway — the first manufacturing site in what was being called Garment Town — as well as 498 and 500 Seventh Avenue.

1931: The Garment District had the largest concentration of apparel manufacturers in the world.

Fifties and Sixties: Buildings became specialized — 1385 Broadway was the bridal building, 498 and 530 Seventh Avenue housed dress companies and 500 and 512 Seventh Avenue were the coat buildings.

1973: Apparel production peaked at about 400,000 jobs in New York City, with erosion soon to come from the onset of the import era.

1987: Zoning law dedicates half of the space in the Garment District to apparel companies.

1994: The Fashion Center Business Improvement District is created, the first BID centered around a single industry. It runs from Fifth Avenue to Ninth Avenue and from West 35th Street to West 41st Street, funded by a 0.25 percent add-on to property taxes, with a $3 million first-year budget.

2000: The FCBID reports that for the first time, fashion firms are the minority of tenants in the district, as outsiders from industries such as advertising, technology and health, legal and educational services seek out the neighborhood’s affordable rents and convenience to public transportation.

2007: “Save the Garment Center” campaign kicks off with Pin Day and petitions to City Hall calling on preservation of the industry and neighborhood.

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