[black spacer] Tenement Sweatshops

Emanating from crowded tenements, lofts, and row houses, the whir of sewing machines added to the din of urban life. In many cities, recent immigrants converted small apartments into contract shops that doubled as living quarters.

Fierce competition among contractors for work and immigrants' desperate need for employment kept wages down and hours up. As miserable as this work was, however, it provided many new arrivals a transition into American society and a more prosperous future for themselves and their families. Some immigrants began working in small shops, eventually owning large clothing firms. Others succumbed to disease, malnutrition, and exhaustion, and never found the path from tenement sweatshop to a better life.


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