LES History

Immigration and Transformation

By Deborah Wye

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A look back at the struggles and triumphs of the early immigrant period can offer a new understanding of the present. That era tells a quintessential American story of cultural reckoning that still resonates today. Read More

Lower East Side: Progressive Pioneer

By Phyllis Eckhaus

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Paris had its Belle Epoque. Harlem had its Renaissance. At the turn of the 20th century, the Lower East Side helped birth a paradigm shift of equal moment—the progressive reworking of the social contract. Read More

The Lower East Side — A Special Place

Margaret McMahon

What makes a place special? How do you know when you’re there? In New York City, you can turn the corner and find yourself in a place that “feels” different. Preservationists call this a “sense of place”, and it’s more than a feeling. It’s a carving over a doorway, an arched window with a star above it, a street lined with fire escapes. Read More

A Thin Green Line – Timeline of The Lower East Side Tompkins Square Area

Carolyn Ratcliffe and Artistas de Loisiada (Art Loisaida Foundation)

A History of Tompkins Square Park

Marci Reaven, Jeanne Houck, Laurel Van Horn

Authors Reaven and Houck begin their narrative in 1991, when the city dramatically reasserted its authority over Tompkins Square by evicting the squatters and closing the park altogether. The subsequent redesign of the Tompkins Square helped to ensure that the city would retain much firmer control by widening the pathways to allow police cars to easily drive through and monitor activities within the park. Read More

Lower East Side Preservation

Richard Moses

With its long and continuing history as a haven for immigrants, artists, musicians, poets, and political activists, the Lower East Side has been a cultural incubator from its earliest days. Ideas, movements, trends and customs that derive from either Old or New World cultures, or both, have been born and radiated from here.  Read More

Kleindeutschland: Little Germany in the Lower East Side

Dr. Richard Haberstroh

When New Yorkers think about an historically German neighborhood of their city, they typically think of Yorkville, the section of Manhattan centered around East 86th Street, which in the first half of the twentieth century was nicknamed “German Broadway.” Not many people realize that this was not the original German area of the city – an honor that actually belonged to the Lower East Side and the so-called East Village… Read More