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Tenement Chic: Ornamentation and Architectural Walking Tour of the LES - with a special visit to the Greek Synagogue

  • Meet at Straus Square (the triangle across from the Forward Building) intersection of East Broadway and Rutgers Street (Near Canal and Essex Streets) New York, NY 10002 United States (map)

Garish gargoyles – Greek & Roman mythical beasts -- beautiful botanicals in terra cotta …. Why do these architectural sculptures adorn otherwise drab 19th century tenements? Who were the anonymous artisans that created these treasures, and what motivated the building developers to employ them?

These and other topics will be discussed as you journey with Urban Historian Barry Feldman through the Lower East Side. Trace the development of the typical tenement – a mid-19th century windowless box- to contemporary housing styles. Explore a middle class area which pre-dates the Civil War, and learn how building ornamentation influenced residential architecture in this ever evolving immigrant enclave.

This tour ends with a visit to Kehila Kedosha Janina, the only Romaniote synagogue in the Western Hemishpere. Founded by Greek-speaking Jews from Ioannina, Greece, in 1927, the synagogue has functioned as a Jewish house of worship, without disruption, for 90 years. Presently, the building, also, contains a museum located in the women's section, in the balcony. The Museum tells the story of 2500 years of Greek Jewish presence, the longest, continuous Jewish presence in the European Diaspora.

This tour is a collaboration between the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy (LESJC) and the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative (LESPI). The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative: are local residents and preservationists who want to preserve what’s left of the historic architecture and streetscapes of Manhattan’s historic Lower East Side, which includes such neighborhoods as the East Village, Lower East Side below Houston St., Chinatown, Little Italy and the Bowery, extending from East 14th Street south to Fulton and Franklin Streets, and Broadway east to the East River. They are a grass roots not-for-profit organization, formed in 2007.

Tickets are an additional $2 if purchased the day of the tour