Residential History of 103 Orchard Street

Posted on: October 28th, 2009 at 6:27 am by

A couple weeks ago, we touched on the building history of 103 Orchard Street.  Today, the focus is on those who lived there.  A residential history, as it were.

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The construction of 103, 105, and 107 Orchard coincided with the arrival of large numbers of Eastern-European immigrants to the Lower East Side.  Indeed, most of the fifty-four families who inhabited these buildings from 1888 – 1900 hailed from the Jewish shtetls of Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. The majority of them found work in New York’s burgeoning garment industry.

But not all was gravy.  While union victories among garment industry workers were few during the 1890s, in 1894, the New York Times described a strike at Meyer Jonasson & Co.’s cloak-making factory on Grand Street.  Meyer Jonasson & Co. was a very large garment producer, and during the 1890s the Times reports three separate strikes at their factories.

In the 1894 strike, about 500 workers gathered outside the factory, trying to block non-union replacement employees from going to work.  Police arrested one of these women, Mary Schumann of 107 Orchard Street, for slapping an officer in the face and throwing her baby at him when an arrest was attempted.

But by 1890, the demographic of the neighborhood would shift yet again.  Find out more this afternoon on the Tenement Museum Blog!

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