LESPI Outreach

How does LESPI Get Its Message Out? 

LESPI spreads the word about the need for preservation of the historic East Village / Lower East Side through our Facebook page updates, web site, quarterly Newsletters, timely Newsflashes, and other printed materials. 

We’ve sponsored more than 30 community and cultural awareness programs, primarily illustrated lectures and walking tours, more recently, virtually via Zoom. You can sign up to receive email invites to our events at our Home Page. LESPI has sponsored a wide range of educational events; we’ve provided some examples below.

LESPI’s events took a new direction in 2020 with Covid-19. We’ve now sponsored our first series of virtual events, including the webinars: “A ‘Virtual’ Tour of the Historic Oliver Street – Al Smith Neighborhood,” regarding Gov. Al Smith’s old neighborhood east of Chinatown, much of which he would recognize today; “Rose Schneiderman, Woman’s Suffrage and the Lower East Side,” regarding one of the country’s leading activists during the turn of the 20th century, who called the Lower East Side home; and “America’s First Freedom Rider: Elizabeth Jennings & the Early Fight for Civil Rights,” regarding the African American woman whose journey uptown to her Lower East Side church resulted in her lawsuit that desecrated NYC public transit, a century before Rosa Parks. You can watch these webinars on LESPI’s YouTube channel at the links above.

Before 2020, LESPI sponsored only in-person events:

“Chinatown: Lens on the Lower East Side” – contemporary photography exhibit, photographers’ panel discussion, and book launch for LESPI’s book of the same name at the NY Arts Center on the Bowery, during March 2019.

“Chinatown: Lens on the LES” curator and lead photographer Corky Lee speaking at LESPI’s gallery opening reception in March 2019. Corky is on LESPI’s Board of Advisers.

“Candidate Night on Historic Preservation Issues” featuring candidates for NY City Council Districts 1 and 2 presenting their ideas on preservation and answering questions from an impassioned audience, on May 1, 2017.

“Street Art and the Lower East Side” a two part event on July 23 and July 29, 2015 – including an illustrated lecture and panel discussion with author and photographer Yoav Litvin and artist Al Diaz; followed by a live art installation by recognized graffiti artist YesOne outside Clemente Soto Velez Educational and Cultural Center on Suffolk Street.

“Greeks on the Lower East Side – American Stories” – an illustrated lecture by Marcia Ikonomopoulos, Museum Director at Kehila Kedosha Janina synagogue on Broome Street and LESPI Board member, on October 1, 2014.

“On the Block: Capturing the Disappearing Storefronts of NYC’s Lower East Side” – an illustrated lecture by James and Karla Murray, photographers and authors of STORE FRONT – the Disappearing Face of New York and New York Nights, at the Neighborhood Preservation Center on May 28, 2014, as part of LESPI’s contribution to the celebration of Lower East Side History Month in May. 

“Moveable Feast: An Afternoon in the Lower East Side” – a tour of the Bowery and LES by theatre historian Cezar Del Valle and a kosher Greek-American lunch at the historic Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue on Broome Street on May 18, 2014.

“Shine-a-Light” – a tour of historic Lower East Side neon signage by Tom Rinaldi, author of New York Neon on May 8, 2014.

“Solving the Tenement Puzzle” – a lecture by Rob Hollander at the Neighborhood Preservation Center in September 2013. 

“Una Nuova Vita: Italian-American Immigration and Culture in New York City’s Lower East Side” – a lecture by Dr. Joseph Scelsca at the Italian American Museum, which included Italian desserts from Veniero’s Pasticceria on E. 11th Street.

Dr. Joseph Scelsca lectures on Italian immigration history at LESPI’s “Una Nuova Vita” event

“Germany in America: Kleindeutschland and New York City’s Lower East Side” – a lecture by Dr. Richard Haberstroh at the Neighborhood Preservation Center in February 2012, which also featured German food and beer from Zum Schneider, a German biergarten on Avenue C. 

Jewish Rialto” historic Yiddish Theater district walking tour in June, 2012, led by theater historian Cezar del Valle, with Herb Latner, a Yiddish Theater child actor during the 1950s and 60s, and Dan Allen, a preservation architect responsible for the restoration of the Yiddish Art Theater on Second Avenue.

We sponsor neighborhood outreach events such as the Let’s Save the East Village / Lower East Side – Neighbors and Friends meet and greet at Theater for the New City in January 2011, and “Art and Architecture Slam” at the landmarked Bathhouse Studios on E 11th St in October 2011. 

In 2013 LESPI / the East Village / Lower East Side was chosen to be one of the Historic Districts Council’s Six to Celebrate. We’ll be working with HDC throughout the year to expand our outreach, hone our message, and drum up support for landmarking new historic districts in the East Village and Lower East Side below Houston Street. 

Check out photos of these events at LESPI’s Flickr site.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has listed the Lower East Side in its 2008 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places:


“Few places in America can boast such a rich tapestry of history, culture, and architecture as New York’s Lower East Side. However, this legendary neighborhood which has served as the first home for waves of immigrants since the 18th century — is now undergoing rapid development. New hotels and condominium towers are being erected across the area, looming large over the original tenement streetscape. As this building trend shows no sign of abating, it threatens to erode the fabric of the community and wipe away the collective memory of generations of immigrant families.”