ABOUT

FRIENDS OF THE LOWER WEST SIDE

YOU CAN HELP

 

Your gifts are tax-deductible through our Partner, Historic District Council. Click on the link below.

https://act.myngp.com/Forms/-2623280604877943808

The Friends of the Lower West Side is dedicated to preserving the remnants of this lost neighborhood with oral histories, tours, lectures and publications.

The Lower West Side from the Battery to Liberty Street west of Broadway was once one of New York’s most diverse ethnic immigrant neighborhoods, sometimes referred to as “Little Syria,” or “Bowling Green Village.”

Starting in the 1880’s and 90’s various peoples from the Middle East, mostly Syrians, Lebanese, Armenians, and Greeks, began moving into the narrow old streets by the docks west of Trinity Church and the Financial District – a neighborhood previously populated by Irish and German immigrants. By the end of the 19th century they would be joined by a variety of Slavic immigrants arriving mostly from Slovakia, Poland, Ukraine, Ruthenia, and Moravia.. By 1917 the “Guaranty News” estimated that there were 8000 inhabitants of 27 nationalities living in this small area -truly a great melting pot.

Visit 103 to 109 Washington Street, some of the last significant buildings that so well represent this once unique neighborhood. See the landmarked, glorious terra-cotta facade of the former St. George Syrian Melkite Church. Also known as the Syrian Church, it represents one of the diverse religions practiced here. (The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas was destroyed on 9/11/2001.) Next door, neglected and threatened with demolition, is the Downtown Community House built in 1926 in Colonial Revival style as a settlement house providing social, educational, and health services to the immigrant population.

HISTORY

OF THE LOWER WEST SIDE

 

The Friends of the Lower West Side aims to preserve the history of this neighborhood through commemoration and preservation.

VIDEO

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Dr. Linda Jacobs presents the history of the “Lost Lower West Side” as it pertains to the Syrian/ Lebanese colony of New York in the nineteenth century.

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HISTORICAL RECORDS

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BOOKS ABOUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD

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OUR PRESERVATION EFFORTS

Intro to the overall preservation mission

Preserving the Buildings

The lower west side neighborhood was decimated by the construction of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and the World Trade Center. WSHS is working to preserve the buildings that remain. Their cultural importance overshadows their architectural merit. 

Preserving the Memory

Our goal is to preserve the memory of the “lost” lower west side of Manhattan. To do this, we’ve installed plaques in Elizabeth Berger Park, recorded interviews of those who live or lived there, and are supporting the construction of a memorial to the writers of the Syrian colony. 

WSHS installed memorial plaques in Elizabeth Berger Park to commemorate the Syrians who lived on the lower west side in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

WSHS installed memorial plaques in Elizabeth Berger Park to commemorate the Syrians who lived on the lower west side in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

ORAL HISTORIES

Memories of the Neighborhood from those Who Lived There

Use the scroll arrows to see all interviews

Recalling 9/11

Conducted in the months following the disaster, these interviews capture the fear and trauma that forced these once-anonymous apartment dwellers to turn to one another for help and solace. Today, 109 Washington Street has become a closely-knit group of concerned friends and neighbors.

109 on 9/11

Interviews

Ed Metropolis

Hear Eddie Metropolis, apartment # 13, lifetime resident, talk about the morphing of Lower Manhattan from Little Moravia (a working class immigrant neighborhood) to a ghost town in the shadow of the financial district. To quote Eddie: “I’ve seen the Trade Center being built, now I’ve seen it all destroyed.”

Jim Pedersen

Jim Pedersen, apartment 9: the horror of a front door that won’t open as the South Tower collapses.

Lesley McBurney

Lesley McBurney from apartment 7: on the guilt of leaving behind two cats

Nancy Keegan

Nancy Keegan, apartment 1: walking seven miles with a dog and cat—just to get to a place to sleep for the night.

Erwin Silverstein

Erwin Silverstein, apartment 6, witnesses fallen bodies…and then goes to work.

Roxanne Yamashiro

Roxanne Yamashiro, apartment 10: what it felt like being trapped on the subway underneath the twin towers.

Flavio Rizzo & Veruska Cantelli

Flavio Rizzo and Veruska Cantelli, apartment 15, play back for us frantic answering machine messages from Italy and elsewhere. “109 on 9-11”, first and foremost, demonstrates how the September 11th tragedy helped transform a building.

Press & News

Our Partners

Events & Tours

BLOCK PARTY

FLWS hosted a block party on Washington Street in 2016 to call atention to our preservation efforts.

FLWS Meetings

Meetings are held monthly on a rotating schedule. Contact Esther or Joe for meeting time and place.

Tours

Tours are held several times a year. Contact Esther or Joe for tour times.

    Donate

    Your gifts are tax-deductible through our Partner, Historic District Council. Click on the link below.

    https://act.myngp.com/Forms/-2623280604877943808

    Contact us for updates by emailing Esther Regelson at estjack@earthlink.net or

    Joe Svehlak at joesvehlak@live.com