Once home to a thriving textile sector, the Garment District is nested in the heart of Manhattan, New York City. This commercial neighborhood dominated the American garment industry in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the Garment District still attracts the world’s top fashion designers who seek a global presence.
Attractions and Landmarks
The Garment District is home to numerous historic and modern skyscrapers that define the world-famous skyline of Manhattan. Standing 560 feet tall, the Nelson Tower was built in 1931 in the Art Deco style, which dominated the architectural scene of North America at the time. Brick and limestone make up the facade of this property which was once one of the tallest in NYC.
Constructed in 1930, the 43-level Millennium Towers North is another Art Deco landmark in the neighborhood. The World Apparel Center and 1407 Broadway are among the tallest skyscrapers in the Garment District. Since opening in the 1930s, the New Yorker Hotel has been one of the premier lodging venues in the heart of the Big Apple. Featuring more than 1,000 guest rooms, this Art Deco hotel still retains its original rooftop sign that’s illuminated at night.
Designed by Israeli artist Judith Weller, the Garment Worker is a statue that captures the essence of the garment industry that once thrived in the heart of NYC. This art installation features a hard-working Jewish man in a typical garment shop. The figure wears a yamaka to highlight the important role that Jewish workers played in the sector for decades. This bronze statue stands just off 7th Avenue near Times Square.
The Needle Threading a Button is another notable artwork in the Garment District. As the name suggests, this modern installation includes an enormous needle carefully inserted into a button. Situated at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, a bronze statue of the fictional Ralph Kramden character greets passengers. This 8-foot figure honors the legacy of the famous actor Jackie Gleason, who played a bus driver in The Honeymooners show.
History and Background
In the early 18th century, Manhattan was one of the leading textile producers in the United States of America. Plantations from the southern states provided a steady and cheap supply of cotton and other raw materials for this thriving industry. In fact, the workers in New York City actually made clothing for slaves who worked on plantations in the South.
By the end of the century, NYC had the largest garment industry in the nation. Most of the sweatshops and other facilities were staffed by immigrants from Eastern Europe. In fact, Jewish workers dominated the Garment District for the first half of the 20th century. Since World War II, the garment industry has been steadily declining because of globalization. However, the world’s leading fashion entities still maintain a strong presence in this historic part of The Big Apple.
Location and Transportation
New York Penn Station offers convenient access to the Garment District. This massive underground complex is served by NJ Transit and Long Island Railroad commuter trains. An entire concourse is also reserved for Amtrak trains that provide long-distance service. Several New York City Subway lines stop at the tracks of this busy rail hub.
The Port Authority Bus Terminal is another major transit center that’s situated in the Garment District. Featuring more than 200 gates, this facility is one of the busiest bus hubs in North America. The Port Authority Bus Terminal is the final destination for hundreds of routes that carry commuters between Midtown Manhattan and suburbs in New Jersey, Hudson Valley, or Long Island in New York.
Whether you need a taxi or a Citi Bike, you’ll find plenty of other transit options in this busy district that’s nested in Midtown Manhattan.