Although its booming manufacturing days are long-since past, the Garment District remains where, in all likelihood, the shirt on your back was designed: nearly a third of all the clothing manufactured today in the United States is designed here. And most of the Manhattan fashion industry’s showrooms are located in this fascinating, historic neighborhood that’s sandwiched between Chelsea and Times Square on the West Side.
Generally extending from Fifth to Ninth Avenues, east to west, and from the high 20s north to 42nd Street, the Garment District’s roots are historical: New York City, and the neighborhood, began manufacturing clothing for slaves working on plantations in the antebellum South. During the Civil War, the industry expanded, producing clothes for the Union army and, after the war’s conclusion, waves of immigrants from northern Europe continued to fuel its growth. By the early 20th century, the Garment District produced 70 percent of all the women’s clothing in the country.
Although the Garment District was not immune to globalization and the offshoring of American manufacturing capabilities, it remains of critical importance to the fashion industry and other creative industries. Its former manufacturing buildings – with large floor plates – and easy access to Penn Station, Grand Central Station, and the rest of Manhattan have made it highly desirable for not only creative tenants like architectural and engineering firms, but tenants from all types of industry sectors. Still, the only permanent landmark in the country dedicated to American fashion is here: the Fashion Walk of Fame, which stretches along Seventh Avenue just north of 34th Street.
Best Manhattan Office Buildings in the Garment District
- 15 West 36th Street
- Built in 1917 and designed by architects Schwartz & Gross, the 16-story 15 West 36th Street has strong Garment District roots.
- 214 West 29th Street
- The pre-war 214 West 29th Street's art deco architecture and Energy Star label help it continue to stand out along a block that was once home to New York City's fur industry.