Made in Brooklyn

Urban Manufacturing and the Future of Our Cities
Year Released
Film Length(s)
55 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


The compelling stories of factories that flourish in Brooklyn challenge the notion that manufacturing is dead in America. Workers reveal how their jobs bring not only regular paychecks but meaningful relationships, enhanced self-esteem, and pride in themselves and their products.

Featured review

No subject could be more important...not only for New York, but for all American cities. This is the most lucid explanation of America's economic self-crippling and the direction to take to overcome it.
Jane Jacobs
Author, The Death and Life of Great American Cities


Inside Brooklyn’s industrial lofts and factories, thousands of people are making products that range from chocolate syrup to gargoyles! Made in Brooklyn takes the viewer inside these spaces to talk to workers, to hear their perspectives, and to see them in their work environment-- -making wooden furniture or metal lamps, refining sugar or brewing beer. Not everyone wants to or should work in the service economy, and the documentary clearly calls into question whether or not the typical low level service jobs that analysts many times point to, such as janitorial services, offer the same opportunities to advance and to learn new skills as the manufacturing sector does. It shows how urban planners and policymakers, in their sole reliance on statistics, many times overlook critical empirical data about what is actually happening in cities and calls into question a crucial issue --- can we afford to lose our manufacturing base? By employing numerous immigrants, as well as residents of the entire metropolitan area, these industries can help to overcome ethnic and cultural barriers and continue to foster the “American Dream.”


Made in Brooklyn has even more resonance today than it did when first released over a decade ago. Manufacturing clearly matters, and this film shows us how we must nurture it to rebalance, strengthen and sustain our local economies.
Tom Angotti
Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College
A seamless document of urban change that I am happy to use in my classroom again and again. It is accessible and provocative to undergraduate and graduate students alike.
Sharon Zukin
Professor of Sociology, City University of New York
I screened your documentary with admiration. We don't see many films like this, and I wish we did.
Bill Moyers
TV Host, Author
Explodes the myth that service economies are sufficient to sustain metropolitan areas. Manufacturing clearly matters, and it's nice to see that manufacturing, and not just a tree, still grows in Brooklyn.
Michael Peter Smith
Professor of Community Studies, University of California
Though Made In Brooklyn sets out to expose the folly of urban-planning policies that zone manufacturing out of existence, its polemic is only part of its power. Ultimately, the documentary is a love letter to the people who make New York crackle, the individuals who, as Richard Aneiro of the Brooklyn Navy Yard industrial park puts it, "bet everything they have" on "whatever business they're crazy enough to get into." These people (with faces and accents you will never forget) tell how they started businesses that brew beer or design furniture or sculpt gargoyles. Among other benefits, these enterprises keep people off welfare and stabilize troubled neighborhoods. Vicki Feit, who assembles lamps, says, "I never really did good sitting in a classroom, and I love working with my hands." Manufacturing jobs pay more than their service-sector counterparts, and they create three times as many secondary jobs. But even though New York has more than a million people on the dole, city planners have decided that lawyers and bond traders will save the city. Where will the immigrant or the unskilled laborer find work in this brave new service economy? NYU Urban Research Center director Mitchell Moss, a fervid proponent of rezoning industrial spaces for residential use, says: "When you have people earning $100,000 in an office building, you also have people earning $15,000 cleaning that building at night. Filmmaker Isabel Hill told me she felt embarassed for Moss when he said that. Most viewers will want to rezone his face. Criticisms? The film could have acknowledged that sometimes small manufacturer can mean sweatshop. How much do the workers in the film make? Do they get health insurance? Maybe Hill never asked these questions because she was, understandably, won over by the salty good nature of the people in the film--bosses and employees alike--who obviously enjoy their work and each other.
Mark Schoofs
Village Voice

Awards and Screenings

WNET, Screening, 1995
BIEFF, Best of Category Winner, 1994
Brooklyn Arts Council Film Festival, Screening, 1994
Pratt Institute, Screening, 1994
MOMA, Screening, 1994
Municipal Art Society, Screening, 1993

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

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