View of the Diamond District at 47th Street and 5th Avenue.
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The Diamond District is an area of New York City located on West 47th Street between Fifth Avenue and Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) in midtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many New York attractions. It is located one block south of Rockefeller Center, three blocks south of Radio City Music Hall (along the Avenue of the Americas), three blocks south of St Patrick's Cathedral (along Fifth Avenue), and one block east of the Broadway Theater District. The Plaza Arcade, lined with shops, connects the street to Rockefeller Center.
The district was created when dealers moved north from an earlier district near Canal Street and the Bowery that was created in the 1920s, and from a second district located in the Financial District, near the intersection of Fulton and Nassau Streets, which started in 1931. The move uptown started in 1941. The district grew in importance when Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands and Belgium, forcing thousands of Orthodox Jews in the diamond business to flee Antwerp and Amsterdam and settle in New York City. Most of them remained after World War II, and remain a dominant influence in the Diamond District.
A notable, long-time anomaly of the district was the famous Gotham Book Mart, a bookstore, which was located at 41 West 47th Street from 1946 to 2004.
The area is one of the primary centers of the global diamond industry (along with London — rough stones; the Antwerp diamond district in Belgium — historical but waning; Mumbai, India — increasing in significance, Ramat Gan, Israel — also growing, and Johannesburg, South Africa — the major historical source), as well as the premier center for jewelry shopping in the city. An estimated 90% of diamonds in the United States enter through New York.
Total receipts for the value of a single day's trade on the block average $400 million. There are 2,600 independent businesses located in the district, nearly all of them dealing in diamonds or jewelry. Most are located in booths at one of the 25 "exchanges" in the district. Many deals are finalized by a simple, traditional blessing (mazel und brucha) and handshake. The Diamond Dealers Club — also known as the DDC — is an exclusive club that acts as a de facto diamond exchange and has its own synagogue. Retailers with shops line the streets outside. Above the bazaar is the Gemological Institute of America which trains gem dealers.