‘The Garment Worker’ bronze sculpture is of an immigrant man working diligently on his sewing machine. The 8-foot sculpture was created by Judith Weller as she came to the United States as an immigrant with her father, who was a tailor.
The piece become a tribute to the history of the area as Manhattan’s Garment District or Fashion District.
History fact is that New York first assumed its role as the center of the nation’s garment industry by producing clothes for slaves working on Southern plantations. It was more efficient for their masters to buy clothes from producers in New York than to have the slaves spend time and labor making the clothing themselves.
Prior to the mid-nineteenth century there were no as many clothing stores as we know today nor such a large scale of production. The majority of Americans either made their own clothing, or if they were wealthy, purchased ‘tailor-made’ or customized clothing.
Manufacturing in the state of New York, and in New York City in particular, faded in the late 20th century. This has been exemplified by the decline of the Garment District. The district lost well over a thousand factory jobs per year, and men pushing racks of garments from one workshop to another ceased to crowd the streets. Factories and showrooms are increasingly becoming condo apartments and retail.
Adjacent to the sculpture is a giant needle threading a button and the Fashion Center Business Improvement Kiosk.