Friday, November 8, 2013

LESHP and PS 126/Manhattan Academy of Technology partnership

Lower East Side History Project is proud to announce an exciting new partnership with Public School 126/Manhattan Academy of Technology, located at 80 Catherine Street in Lower Manhattan.

The pilot project, launched in September of 2013, attempts to bring history to life through hands-on experiences and researched based learning. The goal is to get students excited about the extensive, influential, multicultural history in their own back yard and inspire future community involvement.

Eric Ferrara addresses the class.
Over the next several months, students will be reading, writing, discussing and learning about how the Lower East Side has evolved over the centuries, highlighting the contributions of various ethnic groups and cultures that called the district home.

Special programming includes walking tours of the neighborhood, in-class guest lecturers and interactive experiences intended to nurture a first hand understanding of our neighborhood's rich history.

Alfonso Guerriero
The school-year long program will culminate in May, 2014 with a gallery exhibition showcasing what the students have learned through a series of photographs and art installations created throughout the year. 

The program was written by 8th grade history educators, Alfonso Guerriero and Christopher Piccigallo in collaboration with Lower East Side History Project. Both Mr. Guerriero and Mr. Piccigallo were born within blocks of PS 126, which makes this project extra special for the veteran teachers.

Christopher Piccigallo
"We are so excited about creating a partnership with LESHP and through their support, start our pilot program that teaches 8th grade American history through the school's Lower East Side community," says Alfonso Guerriero. "The young historians of PS 126/Manhattan Academy of Technology are deeply invested in exploring and understanding the history of our community."   

LESHP director Eric Ferrara suggests, "This is an awesome opportunity to get kids interested in not only history but other cultures these students may encounter on a daily basis. They get to learn about our shared and individual histories which I believe helps create stronger community relationships and inspires involvement in future preservation efforts."

Guest speaker Adam Woodward
shows the class a Revolutionary War
era relic he uncovered locally.
"I'm really impressed by the curiosity shown by the students and the passion that Al and Chris bring to the table," Ferrara said. "These guys worked tirelessly over the summer to ensure that this program is historically accurate and inclusive enough to reach each child in the classroom, regardless of their individual backgrounds."

This unique program has already gained an overwhelming amount of support from parents, educators and administrators, as well as the students themselves. For many, this is the first time that they are fully exposed to the history of their own ancestry, let alone the neighborhood they live in.

LESHP is very excited about this project and we look forward to a successful school year.

To learn more about Lower East Side History Project, visit For more information about PS 126, visit

A project that 8th grade students of PS 126 are working on, depicting Native American life in Lower Manhattan.

Another look at the Native American project.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Exclusive: Inside 50-52 Bowery


Inside the former Atlantic Gardens beer hall at 50-52 Bowery.

The structure, which is currently slated for demolition, sits on what is believed to be the footprint of a historic tavern and livestock market dating back to the 18th century.

Acting on a hunch, preservationist Adam Woodward toured the site and discovered a cellar which very well could be the foundation of the Revolutionary War era Bull's Head Tavern.

If so, this will be one of the most important archaeological discoveries on Manhattan Island in recent history.



Video: The roots of Hollywood on NYC's Lower East Side

This original LESHP documentary explores the important role that many Lower East Siders played during the early days of the motion picture industry.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Video: Alphabet City in the 1980s

Footage of the Lower East Side in 1986 from the documentary, "There's No Place Like Home: Housing Crisis, USA." Produced by Fiona Boneham and Pamela Hoelscher/Deep Dish TV.

See the full movie here:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eric Ferrara featured in new book, "ITALIANS: Un Tricolore a Stelle e Strisce"

LESHP director Eric Ferrara is featured in a new book called, ITALIANS: Un Tricolore a Stelle e Strisce

Authors Giovanni Pellerito and Peter Zullo highlight the contributions of Italian-Americans currently living and working in Little Italy districts across the nation. Check it out here:

Video: Bowery 1930, "Street of Forgotten Men"

Here is a video of The Bowery from 1930 that we've only recently come across. Some great shots here, which were supposedly taken from a hidden camera.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

LESHP & The Great Gatsby

LESHP mentioned in the closing credits of The Great Gatsby, taken from the movie premiere on 5/1/13.

Last year, Lower East Side History Project's Eric Ferrara and Seth Abrams had the pleasure of consulting the new Warner Brothers' film, The Great Gatsby. Eric and Seth got to meet and work directly with director Baz Luhrmann, writer Craig Pearce and actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Toby Maguire, Joel Edgerton and Carrie Mulligan.

Last night was the premiere of The Great Gatsby at Lincoln Center and we are proud to say that Eric & Seth's work can be seen throughout the film.

We won't spoil the movie and give away any details but LESHP was brought in to help give a realistic sense of gangsterism in 1920s NYC and inspire ideas about how characters like Jay Gatsby and Meyer Wolfshiem made money beyond bootlegging.

Though we played a small part in this truly extravagant production, this is the biggest project that LESHP has worked on thus far and very honored to be part of it. Thank you Baz Luhrmann and Warner Brothers for the opportunity.

See some photos:

Monday, April 29, 2013

Eric Ferrara wins an Acker Award!

The Acker Award is a tribute given to members of the avant garde arts communities of New York City and San Francisco who have made outstanding contributions in their discipline in defiance of convention,  or else served their fellow writers and artists in outstanding ways.  The award is named after novelist Kathy Acker who in her life and work exemplified  the risk-taking and uncompromising dedication that identifies the true avant garde artist.

LESHP's founder and director has been honored with an award this year and he is in great company:

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Barney Rosset and Fred Jordan
EDITORIAL: Ron Kolm and Jim Feast​
WRITERS: Richard Kostelanetz​, Peter Lamborne Wilson, John Strausbaugh
POETRY: Bob Holman, Steve Dalachinsky, Eileen Myles, Jim Brodey,  Patricia Smith, Harry Nudel, Lionel Ziprin (Posthumous), Dorothy Firedman, Konstantin K.Kosminsky​
FICTION: Carl Watson, John Farris, Janus Eidus
THEATER: Judith Malina (The Living Theater), Crystal Field (Theater For The New City), Taylor Mead, Augusto Mecharize, Hapi Phace (Mark Rizzo), Tabboo Stephen Tashjian, Peter Kwaloff
ART: Boris Lurie (Posthumous), John Evans, Jose "Cochise" Quiles, Elsa Rensaa, Dash Snow (Posthumous), Jerry Pagane, Anthony Dominguez, Peter Missing, Joe Coleman, Spider Webb
PHOTOGRAPHY: Ira Cohen, Alice O'Malley, Paula Grimaldi-Reardon
PERFORMANCE: Tuli Kupferburg, Valery Oisteanu,  Red Ed, Steve Ben Israel
VIDEO: Nelson Sullivan
FILM: Nick Zedd, Howard Guttenplan (Millenium Theater), MM Serra (FILMMAKERS COOP)
COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Patricia Parker (VISION FESTIVAL), Klara Palotai, Jody Weiner, Monica Panomarev, Lia Gangitano, Lucien Bahaj
MUSIC: Danny "Lord Ezec" Singer, James "Jimmy G." Drescher, William Parker, LAch Anti-Folk, , Razbeez (Posthumous), Joey Semz (Joe McCarthy)
VENUES: Steve Cannon (TRIBES), Hilly Crystal (CBGB), Al Orensanz and Maria Neri (ANGEL ORENSANZ FOUNDATION)
HISTORIANS IN FILM: Jeremiah Newton, Eric Ferrara

Join the award ceremony:

Thursday, June 6, 2013
7pm – 10pm
SoHo House 
139 Ludlow Street

More info:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Recap: "Lower East Side Oral Histories" at La Mama Galleria

Nina Howes introducing Lower East Side: Oral Histories

On Tuesday, April 9, 2013, several long time neighbors gathered for a special event celebrating a new book by Nina Howes and Lower East Side History Project's Eric Ferrara, entitled, Lower East Side: Oral Histories (History Press, 2012).

The event--which was sponsored by Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and the East Fourth Street Cultural District--featured a handful of the twenty-five interviewees whose stories and personal photos were documented for the project.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Look Back at the Bowery “Blue Book”

If you were down and out on the Bowery in the 1940s or 1950s, you wouldn’t want to earn the reputation as a “toes-up mokus” or aggressive “pinker” because you just might “catch some heat” from the “bulls” – or worse – you might be ostracized by your contemporaries and “outed” publicly in the Bowery Blue Book.

Read full article at the Lo Down:

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Look at St. Patrick's Day Parade’s Lower East Side Roots

St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Union Square, c. 1874. Source: Library of Congress.

St. Patrick holds a special place in the hearts of many New Yorkers. Not only is he the primary patron saint of Ireland, he is also the adopted patron saint of the Archdiocese of New York, so it is no surprise that tens of thousands of people show up every year just to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade—while spectators run into the millions.

Though very little documentation exists about the life of St. Patrick, the narrative which has become universally accepted is that the former slave rose to great prominence in the 5th century, bringing Christianity to Ireland. One famous legend states that St. Patrick taught the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) utilizing the symbol of the three-leaf shamrock.

By the 10th century, a Roman Catholic holiday in honor of St. Patrick was celebrated in Ireland annually on what is considered to be the anniversary of his death, March 17. It wasn’t until the 18th century that an official parade was organized in St. Patrick’s honor and that took place over 3,000 miles from his homeland, here in Lower Manhattan.

Though it is thought of as the oldest and largest non-military parade in the nation, details about when New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade started are just as fluid as the legend of St. Patrick itself.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Brief History of Public Housing on the Lower East Side

New York Times, February 1938.

[This is our latest article written exclusively for the Lo-Down.]

When the City Planning Commission formed on January 1, 1938, one of its primary initiatives was to revitalize the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods of New York City. After identifying the Lower East Side waterfront as one of the Big Apple’s neediest districts, the commission proposed amending long-standing zoning regulations in order to restore property values, to encourage new construction and to raise the standard of living for thousands of families.

Plans were drawn to rezone a stretch of Manhattan coastline—extending half a mile inland—between the Brooklyn Bridge and East 14th Street. This area served as the city’s primary industrial district for over a century, at various times hosting the largest concentration of stables, factories, warehouses, and coal, lumber and iron yards in the city. However, by the 1930s, these industries had moved on, leaving the long-neglected “Dry Dock District” an unsightly amalgam of abandoned piers and crumbling tenements, where some of the New York’s poorest families lived in hazardous, unsanitary conditions.


Monday, February 25, 2013

The Food Riots of February, 1917

Protestors at the steps of City Hall in February, 1917.
Source: International Socialist Review, April 1917/Library of Congress.

In February of 1917, thousands of local women organized to combat sharply rising food prices. Spurred on by well-known anarchist and socialist leaders, many protesters turned violent and wreaked havoc on local businesses for several days.

READ FULL ARTICLE, written by LESHP exclusively for The Lo-Down:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Vintage Bowery" fundraiser, March 20, 2013

This is an important fundraiser for Bowery preservation efforts. Honorary hosts include Martin Scorsese, Luc Sante and Angela Westwater. (LESHP's Eric Ferrara is on the host committee.)

Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, live Performances and a VIP guest list all for a really good cause. Well worth the min $125 ticket price, if you can swing it :)

Vintage Bowery
A Benefit to Celebrate the Designation of The Bowery Historic District to the National Register of Historic Places
Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 7:00PM – 9:00PM
@ The Bowery Hotel, 335 Bowery, New York City

Honorary Hosts
Luc Sante
Martin Scorsese
Angela Westwater

Host Committee
Kent Barwick, Chair
Simeon Bankoff
Ellie Covan
Sara Driver
Eric Ferrara
Joe Franklin
 Michael A. Geyer
Frank Giresi
Margaret Halsey Gardiner
Bob Holman
Jim Jarmusch
Host Committee (cont.)
Tom Klem 
James Macklin
Jay Maisel
Joyce Mendelsohn
Mick Moloney
Richard Moses
Joseph Perrotta
Lisa Phillips
Nicholas Quennell
Peter Quinn
Marci Reaven
Mike Wallace

Tickets and Sponsorship Information:
*Please RSVP by Friday, March 15th. For More Information, (212) 566-2729

Friday, February 22, 2013

D.D. Badger Iron Works, 14th Street, 1850s

Source: Library of Congress
Here is an 1850s image of the D.D. Badger & Co. iron works foundry, formerly located at the East River between E.13th and E.14th Streets. Back when Alphabet City was an industrial district, very little of the neighborhood was residential. For over a century, the East Side hosted at times the largest concentration of factories, stables, warehouses, coal, lumber and iron yards in the city.

Daniel D. Badger, who the New York Times called a "pioneer of this country in the use of iron for building purposes," opened at this location by 1854, soon growing to employ 400 men and produce 400-500 tons of building iron per year. Some of the work of his company, Architectural Iron Works, can still be seen today:

36 Walker Street in 2009. Source:
Read more about D.D. Badger, his foundry and work at

Monday, February 18, 2013

Looking at the Lower East Side’s Presidential Connections

George and Martha Washington’s mansion at 3 Cherry Street. Source: New York Historical Society.

We've written an article in honor of Presidents' Day, which covers over 200 years of presidential connections to the Lower East Side.

Written exclusively for the Lo-Down, this is the first post in what we hope will be a long series. Give us positive feedback and they'll keep coming :)

Check it out:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

LESHP makes's "12 tours locals will love" list

Thank you! Five LESHP tours made their "12 tours locals will love" article...

"New Yorkers have a reputation for rolling their eyes when it comes to tours of the city. After all, when you live here, why  pay money to walk around your own backyard? As it turns out, there are fascinating, information-packed tours out there  even skeptical NYC locals are sure to love. These journeys of discovery will leave the know-it-alls wide-eyed and impressed, and give visitors and residents alike a fresh perspective on their surroundings."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Vintage photos of winter in New York City

In honor of this weekend's Snowstorm Nemo, here are some images of New York snowstorms from a century ago.

West Street, 1899

Click below for the rest of the photos...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Eric Ferrara makes cover of GIA newspaper

LESHP director Eric Ferrara is featured with Italian American Museum founder Dr. Joseph Scelsa on the cover of this month's Giornale Italo Americano -- a popular and unique newspaper written in both Italian and English.

Ferrara was in Little Italy on January 31, 2013 for a standing-room only presentation for his new book, Lower East Side: Then & Now.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Eric Ferrara at the Italian American Museum

Thank you to the Italian American Museum (155 Mulberry Street) for hosting a book signing/presentation last night with LESHP director Eric Ferrara, who was promoting his new book, Lower East Side: Then & Now.

Eric Ferrara at the Italian American Museum, January 31, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

New book: "Lower East Side: Then & Now"

We are proud to announce the release of a new book by Lower East Side History Project's Eric Ferrara and David Bellel, entitled Lower East Side: Then & Now, published by Arcadia Publishing.

Using side-by-side images, Ferrara and Bellel compare drastic changes over the last century to select local storefronts and street scapes by presenting dozens of rare and previously unpublished photographs, along with an historical summary of each photo based on original research.

Lower East Side: Then & Now also features "now" images by local photographer Shirley Dluginski and an insightful foreword by historian Joyce Mendelsohn, author of The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Villager covers "Lower East Side: Oral Histories" book launch

A new book, Lower East Side Oral Histories, is a compilation of interviews by Nina Howes and edited by Lower East Side History Project's Eric Ferrara.

On November 30, 2012, several people involved in the book gathered for a launch party at Duo Multicultural Arts Center. We thank The Villager for covering the event! Read the article.

Above, from left, Nina Howes with interviewees James Galuppo, Nilda Rivera, Jan Lee, Joe Preston, Rebecca Lepkoff, Frankie Alexander and Markian Surmach, son of the late Myron Surmach, who was interviewed for the book.
Copyright Tequila Minsky/The Villager