(JNi.media) Historian Joyce Mendelsohn, author of “The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited,” Elissa Sampson, who teaches Urban Geography at Cornell University, and many other scholars and groups on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, are advocating for the creation of an historic district whose boundaries will extend roughly from Delancey to Canal Streets, between Forsyth and Essex Streets. Although the legendary Lower East Side where a million Jewish immigrants thrived in the first half of the 20th century reached all the way up to 14th Street, the group suggests that, unfortunately, the blocks north of Delancey Street have lost their architectural integrity due to rampant development.
Friends of the Lower East Side (FOTLES) and Lower East Side Preservation Initiative (LESPI) are all-volunteer grass roots organizations dedicated to preserving the social, cultural and architectural legacy of the historic Lower East Side. They say they have been successful in gaining a landmark designation for the neighborhood’s significant historic relics, such as the Bialystoker Home and Center and the Seward Park Library. But they say there is a need to designate the complete Lower East Side/East Village Historic District, because although several other neighborhood buildings are already protected by individual landmark designations, you can only tell the full story of immigrant life on the Lower East Side by also preserving their neighboring tenement buildings.
The list of groups and individuals endorsing the initiative is very long, and includes the National Trust for Historic Preservation, New York Landmarks Conservancy, Victorian Society New York, Angel Orensanz Foundation, Art Loisaida Foundation, Congregation Kehila Kedosha Janina, and the Museum at Eldridge Street. They ask friends of the Lower East Side everywhere to add their name to the list of supporters, at the online contact page for Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan.
The letter the groups sent Srinivasan states:
“Manhattan’s Lower East Side is recognized as America’s iconic immigrant neighborhood with unsurpassed architectural, historical and cultural significance to our city, state and nation. Its great variety of age-old tenements, institutional and commercial buildings not only enrich the streets with architecture based on human scale and beautifully crafted ornament, but have given the community and its residents a cohesive and stable environment with a strongly identifiable sense of history and place.
“The only way to effectively preserve the historic streetscapes of this vital neighborhood is through New York City historic district designation. Therefore, we call upon the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark, without delay, the historically intact areas of the Lower East Side below Houston Street. We request that the LPC first target the Preliminary Proposed Lower East Side Historic District shown in the attached map (see below).
Landmarks of the LES:
1. Federal House, 143 Allen Street
Bialystoker Place (Willet Street)
2. Bialystoker Synagogue, 7-13 Bialystoker Place
3. Edward Mooney House, 18 Bowery 4. Citizen’s Savings Bank, 54-58 Bowery 5. 97 Bowery 6. Bowery Bank of New York, 124 Bowery 7. Bowery Savings Bank, 130 Bowery 8. Germania Bank, 190 Bowery 9. Young Men’s Christian Association, 222 Bowery 10. Bowery Mission, 227 Bowery
11. Kehila Kedosha Janina Synagogue, 280 Broome Street
12. Manhattan Bridge Arch and Colonnade 13. S. Jarmulowsky Bank, 54-58 Canal Street 14. Loew’s Canal Street Theater, 31 Canal Street
15. Jewish Daily Forward, 173-175 East Broadway 16. Seward Park Library, 192 East Broadway 17. Bialystoker Center and Home, 228 East Broadway 18. Isaac Ludlum House, 281 East Broadway
19. Eldridge Street Synagogue (Museum at Eldridge Street), 12-16 Eldridge Street