On May 28 LESPI ran its second “virtual” Lower East Side walking tour, this time of former Governor Al Smith’s old neighborhood in the blocks around Oliver Street, just east of Chinatown’s historic core.
Alfred E. Smith (1873-1944) was four-time Governor of New York and Democratic Presidential candidate, running against Herbert Hoover. Born and raised on the Lower East Side, he lived, went to school, and politicked there until he was over 50.
Deborah Wye, LESPI Board Member and former Museum of Modern Art curator, led a “virtual” tour. We saw contemporary and historic views of the church where Smith was an altar boy, the school he attended before leaving at 14, and the house where he raised his family. We learned about his job at the nearby Fulton Fish Market and his political roots at the Downtown Tammany Club. As the New York Times noted, “Smith’s rise from newsboy and fishmonger had no parallel in U.S. history.” Al Smith would still recognize most of his old neighborhood today.