Tag Archives: Preservation

The Lower East Side lost a unique relic, a ruin of historical significance

Last night a haunting and inconceivable ruin of the Lower East Side was mysteriously destroyed in a massive fire.

The abandoned shell of the old synagogue Beth Hamedrash Hagodol has been a feature of life of Norfolk Street, stubbornly nestled next to apartment buildings, a vestige of the past clinging to the present without care or purpose.

Here are a few pictures of the front of the synagogue as it looked several months ago:

Courtesy Bowery Boys

The building has an extraordinary history, important to the histories of both local Christian and Jewish communities.

The synagogue was featured in our book:

“Beth Hamedrash Hagodol, a nineteenth-century synagogue, sits in a sad, abandoned state today, as though everyone’s afraid to go near it. Built as a Baptist church in 1850, it too was converted into a synagogue in 1885. It played an important role in Jewish American history, as it was connected to the oldest Eastern European Jewish congregation in America (Beth Hamedrash, formed in 1853), and yet today it sits eerily unused. Hopefully somebody will come to its rescue before further deterioration—or the forces of gentrification—cause it permanent harm. (60–64 Norfolk Street)”

Below: The interior of the synagogue in an image taken in 2005 (courtesy Wikimedia)

Last night the ruins were gutted in a three-alarm fire. Bowery Boogie was on the scene last night, first observing the disturbing plumes of smoke that filled the Lower East Side a little before sundown last night.

 

This morning they got a little closer to witness the horrifying aftermath.

The Lo-Down was also there to witness its destruction. Please visit their blog today for more images of the aftermath of the fire.

 

The fire seems to have some similarities to that of last year’s destruction of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, another New York City house of worship built in the 1850s with its own unique significance to the city’s history. 

The new Essex Crossing development is rising just a couple blocks north, poised to transform this area of the Lower East Side. Consider me an optimist, but I always thought the ruins of the synagogue could somehow be saved in connection with the development. Now more than ever, we need to protest as many of its treasures as possible or else risk erasing the very identity of this vital historic neighborhood.

Beth Hamedrash Hagodol is now gone.

It existed only as a crumbling ruin and now not even as that. (Friends of the Lower East Side lamented the building’s fate as “demolition by neglect.“)  Certainly it will be cleared away so the land can be used for other purposes.  Instead of even the shell of the building living on as a reminder, it will be replaced by something inevitably glass, pretty and sleek.

Pictured at top (and in the images below) — Beth Hamedrash Hagodol in 1979, in photos by Edmund Vincent Gillon.

Gillon/MCNY
Gillon/MCNY

 

NOTE: Two different spellings seem to be in use for this building — Beth Hamedrash Hagodol and Beth Hamedrash Hagadol

Ten New Year’s resolutions that can help make New York City a better place to live in 2015

Harlem Street with Church, by William H Johnson, 1939-40, courtesy the Smithsonian Institute

In the 1980s comic book Watchmen, a redheaded protester haunts a local New York newsstand holding a sign which says THE END IS NIGH. Sometimes I feel the urge to hoist my own version of that sign upon a street corner, moaning as I watch the city I fell in love with change into something alien and unfamiliar, a luxury product completely out of reach of most of its own residents.

Beloved spots of substantial historical value are constantly closing. Mega-condos will rule Midtown. The phrase ‘pricey neighborhood’ applies to more places than ever before.  You sense that the character of the city might be changing too. You might be thinking about things that you can do to help preserve what you loved about New York in the first place and help keep it livable for the 21st century.

The city needs you! Here are ten ways of becoming a better New Yorker for 2015, ten things you can do (or mindsets you can develop) to continue making this a great place to live. This is the fleshed-out list that first appeared in our Year In Review podcast.

1) Learn history. Talk about history.
We live in old buildings, walk down old streets. The stories behind them influence our lives to this day. Knowing the history of your neighborhood or your favorite landmark isn’t just a fun stash of trivia you can unspool at a party. It adds greater value to the places you interact with everyday. And if you’re going to pay all that money for rent, wouldn’t you like get a bit more out of it?

This isn’t just about reading books about history, watching Ken Burns documentaries, going to museums or, you know, listening to a podcast.  It’s about conceiving your life as the next chapter of the places around you.  Engage with others about the importance of knowing history. Because you never know who will have the energy and power to preserve it should the places you love become endangered. In this day and age, you can’t fully trust that a landmarks commission or a preservation group will be fully empowered to step in.


Old Pennsylvania Station, photographed from Macy’s, taken by Irving Underhill, courtesy Museum of City of New York

2) Read Jane Jacobs’ book The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Jacobs was a community activist during the Robert Moses era of vast highways and the modernist architecture boom. She was a crusader for active streets, of fluid interactive neighborhoods, during an era dominated by the ideals of Moses and modernist concrete architecture.

Her great manifesto The Death and Life of Great American Cities, written in 1961, takes on a new relevance in the New York City of 2014. I suspect we may continue to need Jacobs’ guidance as the city enters a new era of transformation.

3) Protest and speak out
Most people don’t protest anything that exists outside their personal life. When confronted with the closure of a favorite grocery store or the demolition of a beloved building, the tendency is simply to shrug your shoulders and sigh, “That’s sucks. Oh well!”

If it means something to you, take a few minutes out of your day, go in and ask why a place is closing. Interact with proprietors, let them know that you’re sorry to see them go.

Perhaps you’ll be told that there’s something you can do (sign a petition, make a phone call).  Perhaps there’s nothing you can do.  But your simple words of encouragement may help that shop owner or employee make it through a rough day. And could help in the thought process of their next great venture. And if enough people do the same thing, perhaps the fate of a certain place can be changed.

350 Fifth Avenue. Empire State Building, view of from Lincoln Building, East 42nd Street. Photo by the Wurts Brothers, courtesy Museum of City of New York

4) Look into a community group
Community groups are often on the front line of major shifts within a neighborhood.  The problem is, they can be intimidating to join. Regular meetings can be held at inconvenient times and are less than exhilarating, often bogged down with minutiae.

Don’t let that stop you.  Community groups need you and they need your voice, even if you’re a new resident.  There are perks to becoming acquainted with the most vocal members of your neighborhood. And keep in mind that you can participate in some groups even if you don’t live there. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation is a great example.

5) Identify where you might be part of the problem
The unsettling end result of learning history and becoming involved with your community is that you may come to a realization that you are part of a larger problem. Perhaps you’re part of a gentrification wave moving into expensive apartments in a once-affordable neighborhood. Perhaps you unknowingly displaced somebody else. Maybe you don’t really spend that much time in your neighborhood.  Is it merely a place you hang your hat, as they say?

This sort of self-reflection can make you feel a little helpless. Or it can empower you to offset the negative impact you might be making upon a neighborhood.  After all, people interested in environmental issues will try and lower their carbon footprint.  If you’re interested in a vital and rich New York City, why not make small, worthwhile changes to your own life?

Block of brownstone residences in Park Slope, photographed by Danny Lyon, 1974, courtesy US National Archives

6) Spend your money locally
This is the number one way to support your neighborhood. Seek out shops and services that are within three to five blocks of your home.  Try to visit them all at least once and evaluate what they can provide for you. I assure you that the convenience will make up for any extra costs, and you might find that local places may actually be cheaper.  Personal maintenance services (salons, manicurists, dry cleaners) are the easiest, then branch out to grocery stores and delis.

You probably will still need to spend at big box retailers or chains on occasion, but just be aware of the kinds of items that can be easily purchased within your neighborhood.  Even among the big shops, there’s a distinction between local franchises and national ones.  Nine times out of ten, the services at local chains are more personal and the prices can be competitive.

7) Get out of your neighborhood
Mass transit operates a bit like a transporter on Star Trek, materializing you from point to point without the context of time and distance.  It disguises the fact that New York is one of the most walkable cities in the world with hundreds of miles of sidewalk. To understand your neighborhood, you sometimes must become more aware of those around yours.

Break out of your comfort zone and break out some walking shoes.  Get off the subway two or three stops before your home and just walk the rest of the way. (Or get out a few stops after you usually get out.) This is greatest way of clearing your head after a long day, and you’ll always discover something new along the way.  Instead of leaving town for the weekend, chart a course via public transportation to a neighborhood on the outskirts of the city.

You’ll be able to see the history of New York City this way as clustered brownstones give way to housing development or homes with front yards.  Avenues with towering skyscrapers sometimes lead to sun-filled side streets. The more you experience, the more attractive the city becomes.

St. George, Staten Island, photomechanical print/postcard, courtesy New York Public Library

8) Get young people and new arrivals excited about history
New Yorkers can get very jaded. That mindset can help preserve a neighborhood or it can generate a profound lack of enthusiasm.  History and preservation has always been seen as an elder pursuit.  The young don’t care about history, right? Well, as the producer of a New York City history podcast and blog, I can tell you quite the opposite. I believe the present generation has the greatest potential for appreciating history and using its tools to create a better city.

Museums and community groups should be doing more to reach out to younger people, but you can help out with that too, everything from the presents you buy somebody for their birthday (put down Divergent and get them Gangs of New York) to the places you go with them.  And this includes new arrivals to New York who simply may not yet feel comfortable wandering around the city themselves.

Outside the former Mars Bar in the East Village which closed in 2011. (Courtesy the Commercial Observer)

9) Remain a little outraged
I don’t mean to take away the joy of feeling a little jaded and grumpy.  Sometimes that’s the fuel that can lead to a movement but only if you become proactive. Make yourself heard. Become a voice of discontent in social media. Read Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York at least once a week and get a little angry at the closures of so many places that provide richness and texture to the city.

There is something very serious happening in New York — this era will be noted by future historians — and this requires a unique and unconventional effort.  If you care at all, then you have to be part of it in some way.  Find a way to contribute — through your written words or conversations, to your co-workers or your congressperson.  But through it all….

10) DON’T PANIC
NEW YORK CITY IS OVER. You will hear variations of this from your concerned friends and read similar refrains on message boards and comment sections.  Check the comments on Gothamist on any given day and you will see variants of this phrase about twenty times.

This statement is inaccurate.  New York City has gone through vast changes over the decades. Gentrification has been a regularly recurring process in the city for almost one hundred years.  The remnants of beloved eras (Harlem in the ’30s, Greenwich Village in the ’60s, East Village in the ’80s) are disappearing, seemingly at a rapid pace these days.  Urban blight reoccurs as well.

What’s different is our perception of these changes. I can openly lament the loss of my Meatpacking District, for instance, because it wasn’t like what I loved about it in the 1990s.  But another person will look at me and say, “Are you nuts? It’s safer than ever. You’re glamorizing things that are actually quite terrible. And besides the High Line is amazing.”

The New York City that you fell in love with might be disappearing.  Do what you can to help preserve that part of it that you loved.  But always remember that your city most likely replaced somebody else’s version of New York City.  It’s constantly reinventing itself and sometimes to the detriment of many of its residents.

In the end, New York City is never over but it can become tremendously unbalanced. This should be a city for all of us, not some of us. Become a voice in 2015 to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Brooklyn Bridge Park (courtesy Wired New York)

The Best of 2014: The Bowery Boys Year In Review

PODCAST  When historians look back at the year 2014, what events or cultural changes within New York City will they deem significant?  In this special episode, the Bowery Boys look back at some of the biggest historical events of the year including the opening of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the troubling trend of mega-condominiums along 57th Street and the continuing gentrification of several New York City neighborhoods.

We also answer some questions from listeners and present some resolutions and thought on how you can help protect and preserve the historical landscape of New York City — whether you live here or not.  Cheers to 2015!

NOTE: We recorded this episode on December 17, and so were unable to make note of events from the recent few days including the tragic shooting of two NYPD officers on December 20, 2014.

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services, subscribe to our RSS feed or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and Player FM from your mobile devices.

Or listen to it straight from here:
The Bowery Boys #175: The History of 2014: The Bowery Boys Year In Review
___________________________________________________________________

Here are our 2014 podcasts. Check out any you’ve missed!

Tompkins Square Park [download]
FDNY [download]
George Washington Bridge [download]
South Street Seaport [download]
The Astor Place Riot [download]
Ladies’ Mile [download]
General Slocum Disaster [download]
Cleopatra’s Needle [download]
DUEL! Aaron Burr vs. Alexander Hamilton [download]
The Tallest Building In New York [download]
The Life and Death of Rudolph Valentino [download]
The Keys To Gramercy Park [download]
Ghost Stories of Brooklyn [download]
Ruins of the World’s Fair: New York State Pavilion [download]
The Rockettes [download]

And finally, a great big THANK YOU to all of you who donated to the Bowery Boys in 2014! Thanks to you, we have been able to improve our equipment and our sound quality this year, as well as pay for some of our uploading and distribution services. Our thanks to you: Ted D, Sam H, Andrew K, Nicole B, Marie M, Brian H, Joeanna S, Matthew R, Kristin O, Edge of Yonder, Douglas G, Ann C, Richard K, Daniela S, Melissa S, Anthony C, Marjorie W, Carol V, Michael W, Rosa A, Kathleen C, Jamie H, Dan K, Mary Y, Horacio B, Louis G, Nastassia V, Katherine C, John B, Melissa A, Lachlan C, Patricia C, Eric R, Gary J, Michael R, Daniel S, Susan D, Jack L, Ellen L, George S, Jatuporn S, Erin B, Christina H, Robert C, Paula K, Kathy H, Jennifer W, Suzanne H, Kristina E, Milica P, Simone F, Dianne S, Joshua O, Michele O, Susan W, Marsha C, Mark S, Charles L, Bjorn K, Paula K, Ana Lia R, Kimberly T, Saralaughs, and Jean B!

Ruins of the World’s Fair: The New York State Pavilion, or how Philip Johnson’s futuristic architecture was almost forgotten

A little bit Jetsons, a little bit Gladiator, a little bit P.T Barnum. Photo/Marco Catini

PODCAST The ruins of the New York State Pavilion, highlight of the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, have become a kind of unofficial Statue of Liberty of Queens, greeting people as they head to and from LaGuardia and JFK airports.  Its abandoned saucer-like observation decks and steel arena have inspired generations of New Yorkers who have grown up with this oddity on the horizon.

The Pavilion holds a great many surprises, and its best days may be yet to come.  Designed by modernist icon Philip Johnson, the Pavilion was saved from the fate of many of the venues in the World’s Fair. But it’s only been used sporadically over the past 50 or so years, and the fear of further deterioration is always present.

For the first part of this very special episode of the Bowery Boys, I take you through the pavilion’s presence in the World’s Fair, a kaleidoscopic attraction that extolled the greatness of the state of New York.  In its first year, however, a battle over controversial artwork was waged, pitting Robert Moses and Nelson Rockefeller against the hottest artist of the day — Andy Warhol. Other controversies at the Fair threatened to derail the message behind its slogan ‘Peace Through Understanding’.

In the show’s second half, I head out to record at the Queens Theater — the only part of the New York State Pavilion that’s been rehabilitated — to explore the venue’s ‘lonely years’ with filmmaker Matthew Silva, a co-founder of People For The Pavilion, an organization that’s successfully bringing attention to this weird little treasure.  Matthew gives us the scoop of the pavilion’s later years, culled from some of his interviews in the film Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion.

This is crucial time in the history of this spectacular relic. With public attention at an all time high, we may now be at the right time to re-purpose the Pavilion into a new destination for New Yorkers. What do you think should be done with the New York State Pavilion?

An airplane passes over the park, its shadow captured inside the Pavilion. (Photo by George Garrigues)

To get this week’s episode, simply download it for FREE from iTunes or other podcasting services, subscribe to our RSS feed or get it straight from our satellite site.

You can also listen to the show on Stitcher streaming radio and Player FM from your mobile devices.

Or listen to it straight from here:
The Bowery Boys #173: Ruins of the World’s Fair
___________________________________________________________________

And we would like to thank our sponsors:

— Audible, the premier provider of digital audiobooks. Get a FREE audiobook download and 30 day free trial at www.audibletrial.com/boweryboys. Over 150,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or mp3 player Audible titles play on iPhone, Kindle, Android and more than 500 devices for listening anytime, anywhere.
____________________________________________________________________

Here’s the trailer to Matthew’s film Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion:


Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion – Promo I from Matthew Silva on Vimeo.

Thank you Matthew for helping out with the show this week!  He’s finishing his film.  If you would like to help out, go over to the Modern Ruin GoFundMe page and donate.  You just be helping out the film, but the Pavilion itself.  The film will probably be the first time many people ever hear of the New York State Pavilion.

And for a different (fictional) film take on the Pavilion, try out these appearances from The Wiz, Men In Black and Iron Man 2:

And thank you to commenter Signed D.C. who points out that the venue was featured in an music video by They Might Be Giants who, generally speaking, who a bit obsessed with the World’s Fair. (It pops up in several of their songs, including a lyric to their song “Ana Ng.“) At one point, the lead singer floats over the Texaco map.


____________________________________________________________________

Looking down at the Texaco map of New York state. (Courtesy New York Daily News)

A close up of Long Island, photo taken in 1964.  (Courtesy Flickr/Susan DeMark)

An overhead shot of Philip Johnson’s extraordinary rooftop, a stunning colorful ovoid that projected a rainbow of colors down upon fair-goers.(Courtesy AP)

Theaterama, part of the New York State Pavilion, is today’s Queens Theater.  Johnson commissioned the work of several pop artists to hang along the walls of the pavilion. (Courtesy Bill Cotter/World’s Fair Community)

A view of Theaterama showing the Roy Lichtenstein mural upon its side (Courtesy Jon Buono):

Andy Warhol‘s Ten Wanted Men on the side of Theaterama, with the Tent of Tomorrow in the background.  Although we can almost guarantee that it was not beloved by Robert Moses, it’s believed it was taken down because of Governor Rockefeller.

Robert Moses beams from the sidewalk of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.  The mosaic is based on the work of Andy Warhol.

The Federal Pavilion — “the square donut on stilts” — was designed by Charles Luckman, who also designed the current Madison Square Garden.

The photographer Marco Catini has taken some recent images of the Pavilion.  You can find much more of his work here. Thanks Marco for letting me use your work here!

Here are a few of my photos taken on the afternoon of recording.  The New York State Pavilion Paint Project is responsible for keeping the place is festive shape. The candy stripes are similar to the look of the 1964 pavilion.

MY THANKS AND GRATITUDE to the Queens Theatre in The Park for allowing us to record in the cabaret room!  I know we went on and on about the observation desks and the Tent of Tomorrow, but you should really check out a show within the greatly renovated theater.  Coming in December: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol!

Visit the People For The Pavilion website for more information on upcoming events, news and fund-raisers. And a shout-out to the organization’s co-founder Salmaan Khan!

The New York Daily News just yesterday published an article about People For the Pavilion and its co-founder Christian Doran who passed away in February. There’s a fund-raiser tomorrow in his honor. [More info here]

ALSO: I didn’t get to plug this on the show, but historian Christian Kellberg has just released a book of photography of the New York State Pavilion, part of the Images of America series.  Most of the pictures are exclusive to this book including some extraordinary shots of the pavilion construction.

And of course there’s Joseph Tirella‘s terrific book Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World’s Fair and the Transformation of America, putting the entire fair within context of the rapidly changing America of the 1960s.

And since I mentioned it on the show, here’s a link for Robert Caro‘s The Power Broker as well!

History in the making 6/10: Sign of the Times Edition

Picture courtesy Steve Welsh/Flickr

One of the most striking sights in Brooklyn is the old Kentile Floors sign in Gowanus, a pleasant sight to those who pass it daily and one of the last vestiges of non-franchise billboard art in the city.  The current owners of the location are preparing to tear it down, but the community is fighting back.  Sign this petition here [petition] or join the Facebook activism page if you’d like to help preserve history.  Read more about the controversy here: [Gothamist] and at [New York Neon]

Museum Mile Festival:  Head on up to Fifth Avenue between 82nd Street and 110th Street this afternoon to enjoy this annual festival of the Upper East Side museums.  Museums are free and open until 9 pm.  My advice: Check out at the Lost Kingdoms exhibit at Metropolitan Museum of Art; City as Canvas, the graffiti art exhibit at Museum of the City of New York; and Italian Futurism over at the Guggenheim Museum.  [Museum Mile Festival]  

Rooms $1.00:  Demotion of a building in Times Square reveals a 104-year-old ghost sign for the Hotel Longacre. [Jeremiah’s Old New York]

The story of 10 Perry Street, an unusual 19th century brownstone that was once home to one of New York’s most prominent Catholic businessmen. [Daytonian in Manhattan]

The cartographer who actually mapped out Batman’s Gotham City back in 1998.  [Smithsonian]

COMING UP THIS FRIDAY:  A special Bowery Boys podcast, one unlike anything we’ve ever done.  Stay tuned!

Bialystoker Home, a remarkable Lower East Side treasure and home for assisted living–now in need of some assistance

Bialystoker Home for the Aged may not make it into many tourist guides, but this Lower East Side art deco artifact holds an important link to New York’s immigrant history. It was just born on the wrong side of the street, and because of that, it’s an endangered structure.

On the south side of East Broadway, between Canal and Montgomery, stands some of New York’s most important Jewish landmarks, from the towering gleam of the Forward Building to a cluster of surviving 1830s rowhouses and tenement synagogues that held the first critical waves of Jewish immigrants in the mid-19th century.

At right: The Bialystoker building on its opening in 1931 (courtesy the Museum of Jewish Heritage)

On the north side of East Broadway, however, these sorts of historical structures east of the Seward Park Library were knocked down and replaced in the 1950s with an immense cooperative village in the fashion of Stuyvesant Town, a series of housing towers interlocked with open spaces and playgrounds.

The Bialystoker building (228 East Broadway), which opened in 1931, is a relic in comparison to its immediate neighbors, a parking garage (which notably collapsed in 1999) and a banal 1960s medical building known for a chipping mural on its side and to HBO subscribers as ‘the New Zealand consulate’ on the TV series ‘Flight of the Conchords‘. (Full confession: I lived across the street for both the collapse and the filming, so I find the block particularly endearing.)

Its two-toned tannish, art deco facade by architect Henry Hurwit makes an unusual silhouette for the neighborhood, and perhaps that alone should make it a candidate for preservation. But it’s the building’s unique history that makes a necessary keepsake of the Lower East Side.

This and many other structures around here trace to a specific immigrant lineage — the Polish Jews of Bialystok, near the border of Belarus. It’s remarkable to think of thousands of Bialystok immigrants — nearly the entire Jewish population of the city — crossing the ocean, entering Ellis Island, and settling  here, and specifically here, in this area of the Lower East Side.

Around the corner, up two blocks, is the Bialystoker Synagogue, a refitted 1826 Episcopal church that collected various neighborhood Jewish congregations and moved in here in 1905. From a cursory glance at its exterior, you might never know that inside is one of New York’s most stunning synagogues. And hopefully everybody is familiar with the wondrous, doughy bialy, the cousin to the bagel, and its supreme baker Kossar’s Bialys up on Grand Street.

The synagogue is an official historic landmark, and Kossar’s a treasured stop on walking tours. The former Bialystoker nursing home has no such protections.

The elderly home was funded by a Bialystoker aid society in the 1920s as an alternative to standard city institutions. The cornerstone was laid in September 1929, accompanied by a massive parade, 25,000 people carrying “flags and banners with Jewish inscriptions and marched through Canal, Grand and other streets.” [source]

The new arrivals to the neighborhood benefited from the charity of wealthier Jewish immigrants who had arrived earlier and funded projects to ease overcrowding and providing health and education services catering to specific religious customs. The Bialystoker building is perhaps the most striking example of this beneficence. Its design is Moorish Art Deco, of a kind you might see off to a corner in Rockefeller Center. Possibly considered plain in its day, but now seen as beautiful and understated. In particular, its doorway is a marvel; the artfully carved BIALYSTOKER is joined by a dozen medallions representing the twelve tribes of Israel.

Its grand opening on a hot summer day in June 1931 was a premiere event, with another parade drawing tens of thousands, and people crammed onto rooftops and fire escapes to witness the event. Awaiting inside were rooms for several dozen residents, as well as “auditoriums, dormitories, two synagogues, sun parlors and hospital wards.” [source] The Museum of Jewish Heritage has some remarkable photographs of the opening which you can peruse here.

The nursing home has faithfully and quietly served the community for 80 years. Along the way, its seen some prominent and very, very old residents (like 111-year-old Benjamin Kotlowitz). Last year, due to mounting debts and “inadequate Medicaid reimbursement,” the home was forced to close for good.

The building is currently on the market and, as it has not been landmarked, is a candidate for demolition. You can sign a petition here to help the effort to get this unique building saved. The Friends of the Lower East Side also has more information on this remarkable window on New York’s immigrant history.