|The Fabric of Our
A History of Philadelphia's South Fourth Street
by Michele Winitsky
|For over a century, fabrics and
Fourth Street have been interwoven. Many of the Jewish immigrants
who settled there around the turn of the twentieth century were tailors
or seamstresses. Working long hours in sweatshops, they produced
the clothing that made Philadelphia the leading men's apparel manufacturer
in the world.
Other Jewish immigrants on Fourth Street included peddlers who hawked dry goods like fabric remnants, sewing supplies, sheets and curtains. They worked out of pushcarts that lined the streets, or from stands -- tables made of boards and sawhorses -- that leaned against the storefronts. Eventually, they opened up fabric stores, mainly in the 700 block between Bainbridge and Catherine streets.
Today, the pushcarts are gone, as are many of the old fabric establishments. Still, a number of them remain, along with a new generation of entrepreneurs, and a new name for the area -- Fabric Row.
This photo/oral history is a tribute
to the generation who started it all, including my father, Louis Winitsky.
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from oral histories I conducted from 1997-1998.
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