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Exhibition Celebrates NYC's Historic Garment Disctrict

Exhibition Celebrates NYC's Historic Garment Disctrict
An exhibition showcasing New York City's Garment District is now on display in midtown Manhattan.

New York City’s garment district may be a shadow of its former self, but a new exhibition takes a look back into its heyday. The Skyscraper Museum opened the exhibition, called “Urban Fabric”, in its midtown Manhattan pop-up space on Monday.

The exhibition features photographs, architectural drawings, films, and advertisements from New York’s garment manufacturing industry.  

Carol Willis, founder, director, and curator of the Skyscraper Museum, said the garment district represents an important part of New York’s history.

“It remains a true relic,” she said, “a true artifact of its 1920's art deco architecture and urbanism.”

At its height in the 1920’s New York City’s garment district was the largest concentration of skyscraper factories in the world. The district spread over 18 blocks in midtown west.

The industry employed over 100,000 workers and produced nearly ¾ of all women and children's apparel in the United States.

Since the 1960’s clothing manufacturing has moved away from New York City, first to the American South and then overseas. While no longer a hub for manufacturing, the garment district remains central to New York fashion.

Carol Willis said these changes don’t detract from the garment district’s rich history.

“The people are changing, the jobs are changing, the pattern of life is changing on the streets,” she said, “but the stage in which all of this history took place is still there to see.”

“Urban Fabric” is free and will run through October at 1411 Broadway.