Spanish Harlem Sweatshop by Phil Decker

Street Scene outside Allison's Dress Manufacturing Company
in Spanish Harlem
Piles of Work
Factory Sample

 Coffee Break

This photo essay of Allison's Dress Manufacturing Company was created in Spanish Harlem, the Puerto Rican neighborhood I lived in during 1984, while studying at the International Center of Photography in New York City.

Filing System
Calling Home
To Do List
Discussion with the Boss
Making Her Point
 Union Rep and Owners Meeting

The sweatshop was located on the third floor of a warehouse, tucked into a residential neighborhood.  About fifteen employees worked sewing and ironing dresses.  The workers were mostly all immigrants from Puerto Rico.  It was amazed to see how little factory conditions had changed, despite decades of struggles for better working conditions.  In this photo essay I tried to portray individuals at work as well as the supportive community workers had created, to help each other get through the day.
Taking a Break
Hidden Behind the Dresses
 Final Touches
Stairway Entrance to the Sweatshop

Text and photos © Phil Decker


Rhonda Boocock said…
excellent reportage!
Mikael said…
Great work, give us more :))