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Who says there are no African-Americans on Wall Street? You can check in on the former home of the Royal African Trading Company, NYC's once bustling slave market, at the corner of Wall and Walter Streets. In the late 1700's, NYC was second only to Charleston, SC for the busiest slave market and could boast that more than 20% of it's population were slaves. We've progressed a lot since then - today, only about 10% of welfare recipients have been used as slaves in demeaning Workfare programs. Afterward, you can stroll down to the touristy South Street Seaport and have an overpriced dinner at the port where many of NYC's slaves arrived.

One block east of Broadway between Duane and Elk (take the 2 or 3 train to Wall St.) you'll find the African Burial Ground. The bodies of an estimated 20,000 African slaves were buried here until the 1790's. The lot began to be used as a cemetary for Africans when Trinity Church, which had been the cemetary for many of the city's poor, issued a decree forbidding Africans from being buried in their churchyard. Other NYC laws during this time restricted the number of persons who could attend African funerals, and at what times they could be held. The small plot of land left untouched as a historic memorial is but a tiny fraction of the graveyard's size. Many of the buildings currently surrounding the memorial either destroyed or were built on top of the remains of African slaves.

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(Found citywide, but particularly fierce on the Lower East Side)
36 E. 1st Street
Accessible by the F train, this lovely location on Manhattan's Lower East Side used to be a low-income Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotel housing more than 28 NY'ers - until Giuliani had it destroyed just over three years ago. Evicted at 2 AM, the tenants saw their home destroyed later that day with many of their belongings still inside. For an eerily similar story, check out 172 Stanton Street.

SROs are a dying breed in NYC due to the ever-advancing yuppie sprawl which has consumed almost all of Manhattan's liveable real estate. Since Mayor Giuliani has followed a consistent reverse-Robin Hood tactic of taking the homes of the poor to give to the rich, one wonders if his newest anti-poor law, which makes sleeping on the sidewalks illegal, will result in an attempt to eventually turn NYC sidewalks into luxury apartment suites.

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No longer will you need to travel to an expensive, bug-infested, third world country to see sweatshops in action - Yup, NYC has it all. Walk through NYC's Garment District (8th Ave, between 34th and 43rd Streets) paying special attention to the upper windows of the buildings and you can catch a glimpse back to a time before unions. Here workers sew clothes for Wal-Mart, the Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, and Liz Claiborne and their sub-minimum wage salaries pass the savings on to you!

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The Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE! AFL-CIO) has been doing great work in organizing sweatshop workers here in NYC and in fighting for the rights of textile workers worldwide. Check out their website for more info on you can help the fight against sweatshops.

 
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Karen Duffy. Click here for Realaudio file.

Click here for Quicktime file.

New York, New York!
Come hop on a ride
You'll see the Big Apple's
Rotten inside
And learn the dirt
from our qualified guide

New York, New York!
It's Hell here on Earth!

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Let's face it, you've seen most of the cheesy NYC tourist crap a million times in movies. For a real NYC tour that focuses on NYC's rich labor and radical history check out Bruce Kayton's Radical Walking Tours. For ten bucks Bruce will lead you and your fanny-pack wearin' friends on a stroll through the city where he'll point out the still visible pockmarks left by an anarchist's bomb on Wall Street, the scene of the 1911 sweatshop fire that killed 146 workers (mainly women), and the hotel where Sid killed Nancy - Cool! Check out his website here.