Religious History

The Yom Kippur Riot of 1898: Lower East Side in Turmoil

When I hear of so-called “riots” on the Lower East Side during the late 19th century, my mind goes to disgruntled newsies or agitated garment workers, rising up for fair wages and employment. Or maybe a vicious street gang like the Whyos primed to wreck havoc. I don’t immediately think of the orthodox Jewish community.… Read More

American History Podcasts

The Huddled Masses: Emma Lazarus and the many meanings of the Statue of Liberty

PODCAST The words of “The New Colossus,” written 135 years ago by Jewish poet Emma Lazarus in tribute to the Statue of Liberty, have never been more relevant — or as hotly debated — as they are today. What do they mean to you? “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your… Read More

Health and Living Podcasts

The Beauty Bosses of Fifth Avenue: Elizabeth Arden & Helena Rubinstein

PODCAST Fifth Avenue’s role in the ‘revolution’ of beauty, as led by Elizabeth Arden and Helena Rubinstein, New York’s boldest businesswomen of the Jazz Age. The Midtown Manhattan stretch of Fifth Avenue, once known for its ensemble of extravagant mansions owned by the Gilded Age’s wealthiest families, went through an astonishing makeover one hundred years… Read More

Neighborhoods Podcasts

The Grand Tale of Orchard Street and Life on the Lower East Side

PODCAST The Lower East Side is one of the most important neighborhoods in America with a rich history as dense as its former living quarters. Thousands of immigrants experienced American life on these many crowded streets. In this podcast, we look at this extraordinary cultural phenomenon through the lens of one of those — Orchard… Read More


Happy Rosh Hashanah! Images of Jewish New Years’ past

Look to the stars children! A vintage Rosh Hashanah card manufactured by the Williamsburg Art Company in the 1920s. Rosh Hashanah is here — the first of Tishrei, year 5775.  Presented here are a selection of photographs from the Library of Congress depicting Jewish New Yorkers celebrating the new year (or, at least, on their… Read More

Those Were The Days

Joyful mourning: The Lower East Side honors a forgotten star

An extraordinary photograph of Yiddish theater stars!  Front row: Jacob Adler, Sigmund Feinman, Sigmund Mogulesko, Rudolph Marx;  Back row: Mr. Krastoshinsky and David Kessler For a passionate sub-set of New Yorkers, Mogulesko was everything. The Romanian-born theater star Sigmund (also written as Zigmund or Zelig) Mogulesko came to America in 1886 already a star of Europe’s… Read More

Queens History

The religious controversy behind a lonely Roman column just standing around by itself in Flushing Meadows Park

. The second oldest manmade object in New York City — outside, that is, not in a museum or private collection — is a solitary little Roman column built in 120 AD for the Temple of Artemis in the ancient city of Jerash.  It once stood among a chorus of ‘whispering columns’, creating an effect… Read More


Go Thistles! The finest names from old NYC soccer teams

Above: The New York Nationals and the New Bedford Whalers play the Polo Grounds, circa 1928 (Courtesy NYPL) The announcement on Tuesday of a second Major League Soccer team for New York — sponsored by Manchester City FC and the New York Yankees — has sent me down a rabbit hole of soccer history, courtesy this… Read More

Health and Living Preservation

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… Read More


‘Christmas or Chanukah?’: New Yorkers ‘discover’ the Jewish holiday

Early news reporting on the celebration of Hanukkah (or Chanukah, as it was popularly referred then) in New York usually took a arms-length approach, as most of their readership knew little about the celebration 100 years ago. More than one old Tribune or World carried a variant of the headline ‘Jews Celebrate Chanukah’ , as though there… Read More

Jewish newsies on Delancey Street

(click picture for larger view) Hanukkah starts tomorrow night, but these guys are still on the street selling newspapers. According to the caption, it’s midnight on Delancey Street and (left to right) H. Brown, age 12, Scheer, age 14, and M. Brown, age 10, venture out on the street to sell newspapers, the Jewish publication… Read More