Garden Looms

Philadelphia was a hub of garment production—from woolen mills to military garb and from Stetson hats to the piecework of immigrant Italian and Jewish immigrant women. Garden Looms was a family business founded by Ben Stein before World War II and was originally called Earle Mills Inc. After returning from the U. S. Navy in 1946, Stein's nephew Harold Rosenberg joined on, eventually working his way up to production manager and buying the business from his uncle in 1965. Renamed Garden Looms, this shop was the last small manufacturer—35 employees at the most—of women's lingerie in Philadelphia. Garden Looms closed in 1985 and was developed by the Northern Liberties Community Development Corporation in the late 1990s as artists' studios and apartments.

Garden Looms supplied large department stores like Lit Bros., Gimbel's, Wanamakers, and S&H Klein, as well as small neighborhood lingerie shops. Garden Looms also sold to "jobbers"—middlemen who sold to other customers. The third floor was the cutting room, where sewing patterns were imprinted on 54-inch wide paper, and large bundles of fabric were cut into garment segments. Those were transported down to the second floor, where the small sewing staff created women's undergarments and slips on Singer sewing machines.

By the time Garden Looms closed, the staff was primarily African American and Latino. Before shuttering the shop, Harold Rosenberg noted that in the changing retail economy, Garden Looms was "too small to be big, too big to be small." They couldn't meet the volume of large department stores anymore, and the small, local lingerie shops and jobbers were a thing of the past.

References

  • Rosenberg, Harriet and Murray Rosenberg. Videotape interview, Philadelphia, PA, November 3, 2007.
  • Rosenberg, Murray, et.al. Garden Looms—Manufacturer of Women's Lingerie. Unpublished typewritten business history, undated.

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735 & 737 North 2nd Street (just north of Fairmount)

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Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Taller Puertorriqueño. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Taller Puertorriqueño. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Talluto's Authentic Italian Food storefront. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Talluto's storefront window display. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Tara Real Estate. Image provided by Jennifer Baker The "Sheel" at Kneses Israel Anshe S'fard. Image provided by Philadelphia City Archives The Antiquarian's Delight. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania The Antiquarian's Delight. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania The Antiquarian's Delight. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania The Ark for the Torahs and candelabras in the Boslover Hall. Image provided by Elaine Ellison The Girls you left behind you. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania The Home of Six Modified Milk Babies. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania The Housewife Bargaining with the Push Cart Man The Library. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania The Lighthouse mural. Image provided by City of Philadelphia Department of Records The Mission District. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania The Procession of St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi mural. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania The Seventh Ward of Philadelphia. Image provided by Univ. of Pennsylvania Archives Thoai Nguyen: Executive Director of Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations Coalition. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Thomas Mifflin School. Image provided by City of Philadelphia Department of Records Three boys in straw hats. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Tim McFarlane (Essene Market and Café). Image provided by Cross/Walks Title page from "Causes of the Kensington Riots explained". Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Title page from "The Dutchman's Letters to Daniel O'Connell". Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Title page of "The Philadelphia Negro". Image provided by Library Company of Philadelphia Tomasita Romero and Iris Brown. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Tomasita Romero, Gardener, Las Parcelas. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Tony and Yipp. Image provided by Maria Petrone Tour group at Liberty Lands Park mural. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Transatlantic, Blue Windows. Image provided by Jennifer Baker Trish Fiorella at Fiorella Brothers Sausage. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Trish Fiorella at Fiorella Brothers Sausage. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Two Neighbors. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Verdi Hall. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania Vietnamese Hung Vuong Association. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania View from Our Roof View of Schmidt's Brewery neighborhood. Image provided by Temple University Urban Archives Vincent Maurelli with his sister, father, and paternal grandmother. Image provided by Vincent Maurelli W.E.B. Du Bois at Paris Exposition, 1900. Image provided by W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois historical marker. Image provided by Historical Society of Pennsylvania W.E.B. Du Bois portrait. Image provided by W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois portrait. Image provided by W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst W.E.B. Du Bois' data card. Image provided by Univ. of Pennsylvania Archives W.E.B. Du Bois' receipt for printing. Image provided by Univ. of Pennsylvania Archives W.E.B. Du Bois' receipt for printing. Image provided by Univ. of Pennsylvania Archives Wallace/Lynd Street (Originally Paschall's Alley), Race/Ethnicity 1880. Image provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Design Wallace/Lynd Street (Originally Paschall's Alley), Race/Ethnicity 1900. Image provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Design Wallace/Lynd Street (Originally Paschall's Alley), Race/Ethnicity 1910. Image provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Design Wallace/Lynd Street (Originally Paschall's Alley), Race/Ethnicity 1920. Image provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Design Wallace/Lynd Street (Originally Paschall's Alley), Race/Ethnicity 1930. Image provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Design William Bleshman, President of the Congregation Knesas Israel Anshe S'fard. Image provided by Elaine Ellison Women operating box assembling machines. Image provided by Library Company of Philadelphia
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