Vogel: The lesson of 97 Orchard St.
John and Caroline Schneider operated a German lager beer saloon in the basement of New York’s 97 Orchard St. in the 1870s. John dealt with patrons in the front, while Caroline prepared customer meals in a tiny back apartment, where the couple also slept, ate and lived. Meanwhile, upstairs, Natalie Gumpertz, a single mother, depended on a living room sewing machine to support her four children as a dressmaker.
Small business in America is not always glamorous and not always a path to fortune. But for generations, small business has been a path out of poverty for hardworking, risk-taking Americans and, along the way, one of the principal drivers of new job growth in America. And for generations, immigrants have played an outsize role as this country’s entrepreneurs.
When people talk about immigrant entrepreneurship, they usually note such success stories as Alexander Graham Bell, Andrew Carnegie or Sergey Brin. They point out that more than 40 percent of America’s Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children, and that many of the most iconic American brands, including AT&T, Procter & Gamble and Kraft, were founded by people who came here from other countries.
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