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Shoe Factory

Commercial Street and Browns Race
Rochester, NY 14614, US

Category: Union Workplace

Used in the following map:

Rochester Labor History eMap

This building at the upper falls housed factories which produced Rochester's famous footwear. In 1888, when it burned down (Factory Fire), it was the site of shoe manufacturer Williams, Hoyt. The fireproof Gorsline Building, which replaced it, housed workers at Hough & Ford Shoes, among the 4600 employed in Rochester shoe factories in 1890. That year, AFL president Samuel Gompers spoke at Rochester's City Hall in support of union efforts to prevent the permanent replacement of striking shoe workers. By 1905 some 10,000 Rochesterians were employed by 70 boot and shoe manufacturers, 13 of them located on Mill Street. Several unions represented this workforce, including the Knights of Labor District Assembly 63, the Boot and Shoe Workers Union, and the United Shoe Workers of America. Conditions in the industry led workers to strike frequently: in 1883 at Reed and Weaver Shoes (27 South St. Paul Street), in 1882 and 1887 at Kelly Shoes (25 Mumford Street), in 1890 at Hough and Ford Shoes (Gorsline Building), in 1894 at both Wright, Peters & Co. (207 Mill Street) and Bolton Shoe Co. (93 Andrews Street), and in 1895 at Harding Todd Shoes (289 State Street).


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