Upcoming Events

Book Talk: “Plentiful Country: The Great Potato Famine and the Making of Irish New York” 

Tuesday, May 21, 6:30pm 

At Church of St. Mary, 440 Grand Street

Directions: 440 Grand Street between Clinton Street and Pitt Street. Entry to event space is down the ramp at the righthand corner (east side) of the church.  

Sponsored by: Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, Cuala Foundation, Art Loisaida Foundation, New York Irish Center, and Church of St. Mary

This illustrated book talk is an IN PERSON event, Free

Space is limited: Registration is required. See below for registration information.

About the Book

In this extraordinary work of storytelling and scholarship, author Tyler Anbinder explores the fate of Irish immigrants who fled to New York because of the Potato Famine. Beginning in 1845, the famine killed a million men, women and children, while over a million more left for America. By 1855, roughly a third of all adults living in Manhattan were immigrants who escaped the famine—many settling in neighborhoods of the Lower East Side. Upon arrival, they were consigned to the lowest-paying jobs and subject to discrimination and ridicule. But their lives were not dominated by destitution and despair. Their true stories reflect not only struggle, but also perseverance, and eventual triumph. 

About the Author

Prize-winning author, Tyler Anbinder, specializes in the history of New York City, American immigration, and the Civil War. His books include Five Points: The Nineteenth-Century New York Neighborhood that Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World’s Most Notorious Slum, and City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York. He was a professor of history at George Washington University for 30 years before retiring in 2020. 

Buy the Book

Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing at the event. Copies are also available at local bookstores such as Strand.

About the Sponsors

Lower East Side Preservation Initiative — LESPI — is a not-for-profit organization formed in 2007, dedicated to the preservation of the historic buildings and streetscapes of the traditional Lower East Side, which includes the East Village, LES below Houston Street, Chinatown, Little Italy and the Bowery. 

Cuala Foundation celebrates culture to empower communities and build belonging on the Lower East Side and in Ireland. We launched the Lower East Side Book Festival in 2023, and other projects include the concert series Lower East Side Women’s Voices, free community classes in Bomba (the Puerto Rican dance of empowerment and resistance) and the Riis Houses Community Celebration with Al Diaz. 

Art Loisaida Foundation is an arts and cultural organization based in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We seek to expand the venues for local artists from our vibrant eclectic community and to improve access to local venues. We advocate for the arts and artists, seeking to provide opportunities for artists to ply their trade and sell their work by promoting visual arts exhibits, multidisciplinary performance, art slams, and children’s art classes.  

New York Irish Center — based in Long Island City, the mission of theNew York Irish Centeris to share Ireland’s culture and foster collaboration between people of all heritages through social services, cultural and educational programs. 

Church of St. Mary — Today a multi-ethnic Catholic congregation, the Church of St. Mary was founded for Irish immigrants in 1826, nearly 200 years ago. The present church on Grand Street opened in 1833 and is the second oldest Roman Catholic Church building in New York, after St. Patrick’s on Mott Street. Its current façade was constructed during an 1871 renovation. 

Registration is required; register HERE.

The program is free, DONATIONS are welcome to help cover costs.

This event is being held in celebration of Lower East Side History Month.

Contact info@LESPI-nyc.org with any questions. Thank you.

Past Live Events

For past Zoom webinars and meetings, see LESPI’s YouTube Channel and/or the list of videos below.

On May 7, 2024, authors H. Arthur Bankoff and Amanda Sutphin presented the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission’s book, “Buried Beneath the City: An Archaeological History of New York,” that retells the history of New York from the deeper layers of the past to the topsoil of recent events. The audience engaged in a lively Q&A session followed by a reception — an excellent evening!
LESPI’s Photographers’ Talk on October 28, 2023 at The Loisaida Center was quite an event. Having braved a dumping of rain to join us, the crowd was treated to 8 professional photographers discussing the stories, inspirations, and techniques behind their work in LESPI’s “Lens on the Lower East Side” photo journal books. We wrapped up the evening chatting over light refreshments – fantastic!
LESPI sponsored a wonderful book talk on September 6 , 2023, “Spotlight on the East Village” featuring author Ada Calhoun, at P&T Knitwear Bookstore on Orchard Street.
On September 5, 2023 LESPI cosponsored the panel discussion “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine: A Conversation on the Future of Vulnerable Historic Buildings in New York City,” where various experts discussed how best to save historic buildings in danger of demolition.

Watch videos of these past LESPI webinar events at LESPI’s YouTube Channel, below is a sampling: