Your family recently emigrated to America from Poland. You have settled in the Lower East Side neighborhood of New York.
You need to find a job, but as a teenager, your choices are limited. You eventually find two options; which will you choose?
After the dilemma:
What really happened
In the early 1900s, the Lower East Side of Manhattan was home to the largest Jewish immigrant population in America. Most of the families had fled the anti-semitic violence of the Russian Empire.
The Lower East Side had many benefits for newly arrived immigrants. Most of the shops were Jewish-owned, and there were many synagogues that provided a sense of community and support.
In New York City, there was hiring discrimination against Jewish people. Clothing factories, also known as sweatshops, were one of the few places that would hire Jews. In the sweatshops, teens would work from six in the morning to eleven at night, in unsafe, unsanitary conditions.
In 1911, dozens of women were killed when a fire spread throughout the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. This tragedy, alongside the provocative photographs of Jacob Riis, led to reforms in labor laws and improved conditions in sweatshops and tenement buildings.
Progressive Era, Sweatshops, Immigration, Ellis Island, New York City, Jewish, Teens
Library of Congress