In 1890, Harris and Jennie Levine arrived on the Lower East Side from Poland. They had few skills and little money. Needing to support themselves and their five children, the Levines, like many other immigrants, literally set up shop in their home: they converted their apartment at 97 Orchard Street into a garment shop.

Harris and three workers transformed the apartment's front room into a small-scale factory. In the far corner, the baster and sewing machine operator stitched and sewed dresses. Nearby, the finisher trimmed loose threads and applied decorative trim to the garments.

These employees were paid for each piece they produced, which all but certainly led them to toil for long hours in hopes of earning a modest income.


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