New immigrant labor fuels the boom on Greene Street.
Ellis Island, 1892. Corbis, found on New York Times
The factories are connected to Little Italy and the Lower East Side by new streetcar lines, allowing Italian and Russian Jewish laborers to flock to work on Greene Street. Italian women bring with them a tradition of sewing and embroidery, and many Russian immigrants are also tailors or milliners.

The red (B) areas are Russian Jews, and the brown (C) areas are Italian. This “Ethnic Map” was commissioned by the Joint Legislative Committee Investigating Seditious Activities, and later used by State Senator Clayton Lusk to track suspected radicals.
Ethnic Map, 1919. New York State Archives. Found at New York Times.
  Greene Street
The new factories on Greene Street may have been modern, but they were not safe. The State of New York’s 1896 Annual Report of the Factory Inspectors recorded 22 garment-related businesses violating code on the block, employing 399 men and 758 women. 337 of these workers were under the age of 18, and 44 were under 16.
Triangle Shirtwaist Factory workers, from HBO's Triangle: Remembering the Fire, 2011.
In the famous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911, 146 people died when a fire broke out on the top floors of the garment factory at the corner of Greene Street and Washington Place, 6 blocks north of the Prince and Houston block.
Building interior after the Triangle Factory fire, 1911. From "Today's Document," blog of the National Archives.
After the disaster, laborers, many of whom were young immigrant women, began to organize into unions, demanding better conditions for factory workers.
Clips from PBS American Experience Season 23 Episode 8: Triangle Fire, 2011.
Despite the growing pressure, many building owners on Greene Street failed to modernize with new safety and fire regulations. Instead, other textile businesses moved uptown to larger, more modern buildings where it was easier to comply with regulations, leaving the old cast iron buildings where they stood.
Demonstration after the Triangle Factory fire, 1911. From "Today's Document," blog of the National Archives.
This map shows the clusters of factories and commercial spaces of the garment industry, which are dense around the Greene Street block in 1900 — but by 1922 the business is pushed almost entirely uptown.
From B.M. Selekman, Henriette R Walter, W.J. Couper. “The Clothing and Textile Industries.” In Regional Survey of New York and Its Environs, Volume IB: Food, Clothing and Textile Industries Wholesale Markets and Retail Shopping and Financial Districts, edited by R.M. Haig and R.C. McCrea. New York: Regional Plan of New York and Its Environs, 1928."
  Greene Street
  Greene Street
  Greene Street
  Greene Street
Fernbach, Henry. "120 Greene," 1950s, from Winston Weisman Collection of Architectural Photographs, New-York Historical Society.
Boom and bust: industry abandoned Greene Street.
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