Exploring Downtown’s Lost Neighborhood

This Sunday, A Tour of the Lower West Side

Lower Washington Street tenementLower Washington Street tenement

Did you know that the Lower West Side used to be one of New York’s most diverse immigrant neighborhoods?

In 1917, a news article noted the presence of 27 nationalities in this small compact area. From the 1840s to the 1960s, waves of Irish, German, Middle Eastern, and various Slavic immigrants settled north of the Battery. Lower Washington Street was the heart of the Syrian Quarter, also called “Little Syria,” the first major Arab settlement in the United States.

Few remnants of this neighborhood still exist, due to the construction of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel in the 1940s and the World Trade Center in the 1960s- both built by confiscating land through eminent domain. The neighborhood is continuing to disappear with the new construction after 9/11.

View the former St. George Melkite Church, the Downtown Community House, some Federal-style townhouses, and the few remaining tenements. Hear stories of the diverse people who lived here together in one of New York’s great neighborhood melting pots.

The tour will end at the “Little Syria” exhibit at the Metropolitan College of New York at 60 West Street, where tour participants will have a chance to view the exhibit which will close on March 24, 2017.

Tour information:
Sunday March 19 10AM

Leaders: Joe Svehlak, urban historian, whose family lived here in the early 1900s, and Esther Regelson, community activist and current resident.

Meet: Inside the Staten Island Ferry Terminal (South Ferry) at the bottom of the escalators, left side.

Donation: $10 to help with our preservation efforts.
RSVP to: Joe (718) 855-7354;
or Esther (917) 705-3886 or estjack@earthlink.net.

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