Born in 1947, Francine Gottfried was an unknown clerical worker who suddenly became an international celebrity when large groups of men began to mob her on her way to work for two weeks in September 1968. Newspapers dubbed her “Wall Street’s Sweater Girl” as her curvaceous figure seemed to be the sole reason that crowds formed spontaneously around her when she appeared in the financial district.
Gottfried first started working in the financial district on May 27, 1968. By late August, a small band of girl watchers had noticed her, and that she always followed the same route. They timed her daily arrival and started spreading the word to their colleagues and co-workers. For three weeks, the band of gawkers grew exponentially larger until on September 18 there were 2,000 people waiting for her.
By this point the crowd itself had become the phenomenon drawing the crowd, and the following day, September 19, over 5,000 financial district employees downed tools, left work and poured into the streets at 1:15 pm to watch the 5-foot 3-inch brunette exit the BMT station clad in a tight yellow sweater and miniskirt and walk to her job at the Chemical Bank New York Trust Company’s downtown data processing center.
Police closed the streets and escorted her through the mob, which damaged three cars as men climbed on their roofs to gain a better view. Stockbrokers and bankers leaned out of windows overlooking Wall Street to watch as trading came to a virtual halt. “Ticker tapes went untended and dignified brokers ran amok,” wrote New York magazine. Photographers from all the daily papers and Life, Time, and New York snapped her picture. “A Bust Panics Wall Street As The Tape Reads 43” read a headline in the Daily News.
The following day, Friday, September 20, the corner of Wall and Broad was jammed with 10,000 spectators and press who waited for Gottfried in vain. Her boss had called and asked her to stay home to put a stop to the disturbances. A nice Jewish girl who lived at home with her parents in Williamsburg, she wasn’t seeking notoriety and started taking a different route to work. “I think they’re all crazy,” she was quoted as saying. “What are they doing this for? I’m just an ordinary girl.” After that, the Francine mania on Wall Street quickly subsided, and she eventually left her $92.50 a week job as an IBM 1260 keypunch operator to become a go-go dancer.
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