Picture of a Ludlow Street sweat shop Picture of A necktie workshop

Can archaeology make us think about the present in new ways?

Picture of family members carrying garments home to be sewn together (1890)

By the 1840s Baxter Street had become New York's first garment district.

For at least forty years tailors, shoemakers, and retail and second-hand clothing shops, many of them run by eastern European Jews, lined the street. A deposit in the fill of Feature H, a stone-lined privy in the backyard of one of these properties, was full of pins, needles, thimbles, and cloth--the physical evidence of the sewing industry.

Picture of a stone-lined privy

A Horizontal Bar

Picture of Italian immigrants

A later deposit in the same feature reflected the Italian population that displaced the German clothiers in the 1880s.

These new immigrants also found jobs in the clothing industry, but a distinctively Italian occupation was organ grinding. The skeletal remains of a monkey recovered from Feature H may have belonged to one of the organ grinders who lived at 14 Baxter Street.

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