The Marshall Project

All I Really Need to Know I Learned on the Streets of the Garment District

“The runaways, the mobsters, the pimps—they saw me as someone credible, someone who didn’t judge them.”

Growing up in Brooklyn in the 70s, starting when I was around nine, I often played hooky and took the train from Brownsville to 42nd Street. In those days, you could watch three movies for $1.50, but you had to maneuver around the truant officers. When I wasn’t watching movies, I would stroll down to the area between 34th and 42nd streets known as the Garment District.

These blocks were run by mobsters. I didn't know that until I got older and started reading about them in the papers. I used to wonder why nobody took their garment racks when they left them out on the streets. Nobody would even take a shirt. But it was because they had that area so locked down.

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