7. The Garment District

The Garment District occupies one square mile between 35th & 40th Street west of 5th Avenue. New York is known as one of the world’s fashion capitals so it makes sense that it has a vibrant Garment Center. In the 1950’s, factories in this district made 95% of the clothing sold in the U.S. and employed over 200,000 people, now it makes 3% and employs about 21,000 people.

The Garment Center still houses many garment businesses, showrooms and retail stores, but the area saw a steep decline in garment manufacturing due to outsourcing of manufacturing overseas, leading to the City designating the area as a Special Zoning District. However, the encroachment of luxury hotels and spillover businesses from Times Square are pushing out many of the garment businesses.

Rising real estate costs, the influx of national chains and changing shopping habits and demographics have all had a devastating impact on these unique districts. Most of them are gone leaving behind a blank slate for the developers to come in and put up condos, bank branches and national chain stores. In their wake the city is less diverse, less exciting and a less special place. The scale and variety of these districts added to the character of the city, regardless if you’ve ever bought an instrument on Music Row, or a Plant in the Plant district, you knew they were there.

New York is defined by its neighborhoods and districts; it is what helped make New York into a place that has drawn the best and brightest from around the world to visit, live, work and play here. If we continue on our current path to a corporate, banal and generic future, New York will be indistinguishable from other places.