Tag Archives: Lower East Side

Kathleen Hulser: Hurricane Sandy And The NYC Waterfront

As New Yorkers still struggle without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it plunges us right into the heart of a discussion about the historic waterfront. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Vision for the 21st Century, proclaimed in 2002, the crumbling infrastructure along the Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfront that once served the port of New York should be harnessed for a variety of development schemes. Continue reading

Lower East Side History Project Walking Tours

The Lower East Side History Project (LESHP), a non-profit organization dedicated to research, education and preservation, has announced its Summer 2011 walking tour schedule.

LESHP walking tours have been called a “Must do&#8230-” by Frommers Guide (2009) and was ranked “Top Five in New York City” by Time Out New York (2010). New York Newsday announced, “Nothing will get you closer to the real thing&#8230-” (2010) and NBC declared “You will be amazed&#8230-” (2010).

LESHP’s stable of licensed tour guides are multigenerational, native New Yorkers with well over a century of personal insight. They are veteran educators, professional authors, movie consultants, researchers active in neighborhood politics, arts and culture. The organization is partnered with museums and cultural institutions in the City of New York and has unique access to images, documents and information.

The full schedule is below, but you can find out more online or call 347-465-7767.

LESHP Summer 2011 public walking tour schedule:

Alphabet City Walking Tour

Once the godforsaken broken heart of the ghetto, the most densely populated square mile on the face of the earth, built over an industrial wasteland, then abandoned to a wild mix of marginal artists, angry anarchists, gangs, dealers, excons and thieves, against a backdrop of urban blight, tenements burned to rubble and danger on every corner out of which grew jazz and the beat generation, graffiti art and punk rock, the squatters movement, the garden movement and radical underground cinema: there’s more to Alphabet City than meets the eye, stories that could happen only in metropolis’ darkest corner.

When: Every Saturday at 11:00am
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: Entrance to Tompkins Square Park, St. Marks and Avenue A
Subway: L train to 1st avenue or 6 train to Astor Place

Bowery Walking Tour
The Bowery is not just the oldest and most architecturally diverse thoroughfares in NYC, it is one of most historically significant streets in the country. Beyond the myths, legends and gritty reputation, the Bowery offers an absolute treasure trove of NYC and American history.

Once an important Native American trail, the Bowery has undergone many changes in its modern history. From elegant opera houses to rowdy working-class theaters- from America’s vice district controlled by gangs and crooked politicians to a haven for the homeless and downtrodden as &#8220skid row&#8221 during the great depression- and from factories and warehouses to pioneering artist colonies. Today the Bowery has become a popular hotel, restaurant and nightclub district, but buried beneath the five-star offerings is a repository of social, economic, political, immigrant, labor, underground, criminal, deviant, marginal, counter-cultural, literary, musical, dramatic and artistic history.

When: Every Sunday at 11:00am
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: Astor Place Cube, E.8th St and 4th Ave
Subway: 6 train to &#8220Astor Place&#8221

Chinatown/Five Points Walking Tour
New York’s legendary slum, a story of Irish, Italians, Africans, Germans, Jews and Chinese, their struggles, their cultures- gangs of New York to the tongs of Chinatown &#8212- with underground passageways still in use on winding Blood Alley where countless gang members were murdered in half a century of turf warfare &#8212- to the single oldest relic of western civilization on the island of Manhattan. It’s 19th century New York: bigotry and rivalry, ribaldry and racism, oppression, defiance, perseverance, progress and reform.

When: Every Sunday at 2:00pm
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: SE corner of Centre & Worth Streets
Subway: J to Chambers St or 4, 5, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall

East Village Walking Tour
This is a crash course in East Village/Lower East Side history. From the farmlands of the 1600s and the wealthy estates of the 1700s, to immigration, tenements, the &#8220melting pot&#8221 and how the East Village became a haven for artists and counter culturalists in the twentieth century (and everything in between). Also learn about how recent commercial development and gentrification is the changing landscape of the East Village and surrounding neighborhoods.

When: Every Saturday & Wednesday at 12:00pm
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: In front of Bowery Poetry Club, 308 Bowery
Subway: F train to &#82202nd Avenue/Lower East Side&#8221

Jewish Mob Walking Tour
Trace the steps of pre-Prohibition era gangsters like Monk Eastman, Max “Kid Twist” Zweifach, “Big” Jack Zelig and Benjamin “Dopey” Fein – pivotal figures in the organizing of crime in New York City- paving the way for men like Arnold Rothstein, Meyer Lansky and &#8220Bugsy&#8221 Siegel. Learn about the Jewish immigrant experience on the Lower East Side and the conditions that led to organized gangsterism- visit the sites of gang headquarters, shootouts and assassinations, and learn how the Jewish Mob expanded out of the slums and into a contemporary organized crime syndicate.

When: Every Sunday at 12:00pm
Reservations: Required, RSVP: 347-465-7767 or online.
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: Outside of Landmark Sunshine Cinema, 143 E. Houston
Subway: F to &#82202nd Ave/Lower East Side&#8221

Lower East Side Walking Tour
This one-of-a-kind tour of the LES highlights all aspects of our neighborhood’s rich diversity by providing an introduction to the many distinct populations &#8212- Native-American, African, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Chinese, Hispanic, and others &#8212- which influenced the character of the Lower East Side over the last thousand years.

When: Every Friday at 12:00pm
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: Outside of New Museum of Contemporary Art, 235 Bowery
Subway: F to &#82202nd Ave/Lower East Side&#8221

Mafia Walking Tour
This popular and exciting weekly tour explores the Sicilian/Italian immigrant experience and examines the roots of the Mafia in America: From the original Sicilian Black Handers and Neapolitan Camorra to the forming of the Mafia Commission in 1931 &#8212- this tour visits the early homes, headquarters, hangouts of such criminal heavyweights as &#8220Lucky&#8221 Luciano, Al Capone, Giuseppe Morello, Joe &#8220The Boss&#8221 Masseria, Vito Genovese, and many more.

When: Every Saturday at 2:00pm
Reservations: Not Required
Fee: $20 General Admission
Meet: Outside of New Museum of Contemporary Art, 235 Bowery
Subway: F to &#82202nd Ave/Lower East Side&#8221

Radical Spirits Bar Crawl
Whether you like a warm pub, a dive bar or an innovative cocktail lounge, the East Village has a history and a present to satisfy your fermented dreams. In fact, there are more liquor licenses (old and new) issued in this zip code than any other in New York. Explore why that’s a good thing and why that’s a bad thing in this bar crawl focusing on the East Village’s legacy of artists, writers, musicians, radicals and other indulgers. In short, an evening walk of the New York of Lou Reed, W.H. Auden, Charlie Parker, Jack Kerouac, Keith Haring, and Abbie Hoffman&#8230-with refreshments

When: Every Tuesday at 6:15pm
Reservations: Not Required (21 and over only, with ID)
Fee: $35, includes three drinks
Meet: Outside St. Marks Bookshop, 31
3rd Ave at E. 9th St
Subway: 6 train to &#8220Astor Place&#8221

Photo: The Bowery.

Walking Tour Explores the Mafia in America

A new walking tour examines the roots of the Mafia in America including the often overlooked early lives of such criminal heavyweights as Charles &#8220Lucky&#8221 Luciano, Al &#8220Scarface&#8221 Capone, Giuseppe Morello, Joe &#8220The Boss&#8221 Masseria, Meyer Lansky, &#8220Bugsy&#8221 Siegel, and more.

The weekly walking tour with guide Eric Ferrara is hosted by the Lower East Side History Project and runs every Saturday and Thursday at 2:00 pm, through March 2011. The cost is $20 per person.

The tour details the Sicilian and Italian immigrant experience and conditions which led to organized gangsterism in America. From the arrival of Sicilian Black Handers and Neapolitan Camorra to New York in the 1890s, to the forming of the Mafia Commission in 1931, tour participants visit the early homes, headquarters, hangouts and assassination locations of some of the most powerful criminals in American history, and explore the wars which shaped the future of organized crime.

Sites visits include &#8220Black Hand Block,&#8221 headquarters of the &#8220first family&#8221 of the American Mafia- the headquarters of Paul Kelly’s notorious Five Points Gang, the gang responsible for breeding the likes of Al Capone, Johnny Torrio, &#8220Lucky&#8221 Luciano, and hundreds more- the home of prohibition era’s &#8220Boss of Bosses-&#8221 and the childhood homes and teenage haunts of &#8220Lucky&#8221 Luciano, &#8220Bugsy&#8221 Siegel and Meyer Lansky.

Ferrara deciphers the myths and realities of the Mafia in Hollywood, including Boardwalk Empire and The Godfather series. Ferrara is a published author, educator, and founder of the Lower East Side History Project and the first museum in America dedicated to gangsterism. He is a fourth generation native New Yorker with Sicilian roots in Little Italy dating back to the 1880s, and has assisted several movie, tv, and media projects world wide, including HBO, SyFy, History Channel and National Geographic.

Ferrara says that he has consulted the families and estates of crime figures discussed on the tour, as well as law enforcement agents, collectors, authors and historians to provide unique first-hand accounts, images and documents in over five years of research.

For more information visit the Lower East Side History Project online.

2008 Americas Most Endangered Historic Places

Two locations in New York State have been listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual list of America’s Most Endangered Places. The non-profit membership organization hopes that saving the places where great moments from history &#8211 and the important moments of everyday life &#8211 took place, will help revitalize neighborhoods and communities, spark economic development, and promote environmental sustainability.

This years list includes eleven threatened one-of-a-kind historic treasures. Listing them as threatened raises awareness and helps rally resources to save them. The two New York locations on the list are:

The Lower East Side, New York City &#8211 The Lower East Side embodies the history of immigration, one of the central themes of American history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, yet development threatens to erase the surviving historic structures. This includes houses of worship, historic theaters, schools and the tenement, a unique architectural type which, by the sheer numbers who lived in such a building, had an impact on more Americans than any other form of urban housing. A New York City landmark designation and contextual zone changes within the neighborhood would preserve the physical character of the neighborhood. [At left Lower East Side Tenement by Greg Scaffidi]

Peace Bridge Neighborhood, Buffalo, N.Y. &#8211 The neighborhood and the site, with homes and buildings dating to the 1850s on two National Register Olmsted parks, is an iconic section of the City of Buffalo. The Public Bridge Authority (PBA) proposes to expand Peace Bridge and include a 45 acre plaza that will eliminate over 100 homes and businesses (dozens of which are eligible to the National Register) and diminish the Olmsted parks. Suitable alternate sites exist, but PBA refuses to properly consider them. [At right: Peace Bridge Neighborhood by Catherine Schweitzer]

A complete list along with a video produced by the History Channel is located at www.PreservationNation.org