Heritage Walk on the Lower East Side…..continued

My walking trail of Jewish Manhattan

using Oscar Israelowitz’s book, Jewish Heritage Trail of New York as my guide. With Google Maps, I was able to plan and enjoy without wasting time and energy, and so had an amazing experience.

My photos are mostly in the form of slideshows with some Wikipedia providing further info.

Some American Jewish music on right hand side panel.

Lower East Side continued

This area has the highest concentration of sites of Jewish interest on Manhattan.

East Broadway

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

East Broadway as seen from theManhattan Bridge.

East Broadway is a two-way east-west street in the Chinatown (紐約華埠)Two Bridges, and Lower East Side neighborhoods of the New York City borough of Manhattan.

East Broadway begins at Chatham Square (also known as Kimlau Square) and runs eastward under the Manhattan Bridge, continues pastSeward Park and the eastern end of Canal Street, and ends at Grand Street.

The western portion of the street has evolved into the neighborhood known as Little Fuzhou, or Manhattan’s Fuzhou Town (福州埠, 紐約華埠), primarily populated by Chinese immigrants (mainly Foochowese who emigrated from FuzhouFujian), while the eastern portion was traditionally home to a large number of Jews, although this section of East Broadway has been turning over to the expansion of the Fujianesepopulation and commerce in Lower Manhattan as well. One section in the eastern part of East Broadway, between Clinton Street and Pitt Street, has been unofficially referred to by residents as “Shteibel Way”, since it has been lined with up to ten small synagogues (“shteibels”) in its history.

Chatham Square and Lin Zexu Statue

Structures and places

Jewish Daily Forward Building

The Jewish Daily Forward erected a ten-story office building at 175 East Broadway, designed by architect George Boehm and completed in 1912. It was a prime location, across the street from Seward Park. The building was embellished with marble columns and panels and stained glass windows. The facade features carved bas relief portraits of Karl Marx,Friedrich Engels,[33] (who co-authored, with Marx, The Communist Manifesto) and Ferdinand Lassalle, founder of the first mass German labor party. A fourth relief portrays a person whose identity has not been clearly established, and has been identified as Wilhelm Liebknecht,[34] Karl Liebknecht,[35] or August Bebel.[36][37] In the real estate boom of the 1990s, the building was converted to condominiums.[38][39]

Seward Park

Playground at Seward Park

Seward Park, at the northeast corner of East Broadway and Straus Square, is 3.046 acres (12,330 m2) in size and is the first municipally built playground in the United States.[43][44]

Stop 65:

Shteeble Row

225-283 E Broadway

From Oscar’s book:

Stop-65-1a Stop-65-1b

Stop 66: Bialystoker Home for the Aged

228 E Broadway



228 E Broadway

 Stop 67: Educational Alliance

197 E Broadway

The Educational Alliance

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Educational Alliance is a leading charity that has been serving Downtown Manhattan since 1889. Founded[1] as a partnership between the Aguilar Free Library, the Young Men’s Hebrew Association (now the 92nd Street Y), and the Hebrew Institute, the main purpose was to serve as a settlement house for Eastern European Jews immigrating to New York City.

A massive fundraiser resulted in funds to build the organization’s flagship building at 197 East Broadway. In addition to basic classes and programs on how to be a good American, The Alliance offered a creative outlet via The Alliance Art School, recreational respite in the Rooftop Garden (serving 10,000 people per day in the summer of 1903), and the theater (Eddie Cantor made his stage debut there in 1905), and other escapes from cramped tenement life.

As the population of the Lower East Side changed, so did The Educational Alliance. In the middle of the last century, The Alliance shifted away from being volunteer run and introduced social service programs overseen by trained professionals. In the 1960s, The Alliance pioneered Operation Street Corner, aimed at curbing teenage delinquency. The Alliance was one of the first organizations to offer Head Start for early childhood education. Recently, The Alliance addressed the needs of the aging population of the neighborhood by helping establish one of the first naturally occurring retirement communities, for which it provides services.

Today, the flagship building remains at 197 East Broadway, and it is now complemented by twenty-eight other sites, including the 14th Street Y at 14th Street and First Avenue, residential and outpatient drug treatment facilities, counseling and afterschool programs in New York City Public Schools, older adult residential and community center facilities, and more.


NY Police Community Fair

Stop 68: New York Public Library – Seward Park Branch

192 E Broadway

Stop 69: Jewish Daily Forward Building

175 E Broadway

The Jewish Daily Forward

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Forward
The forward.jpg
Publisher Samuel Norich
Editor Jane Eisner
Managing editors Dan Friedman
News editor Larry Cohler-Esses
Opinion editor Gal Beckerman
Founded April 22, 1897
Political alignment Progressive
Language English
Headquarters New York City, USA
Circulation English: 28,221 (March 2013)[1]
Official website forward.com
Yiddish Jidysz.lebt.svgJournalism

Radio Programs:

Daily news online:

Weekly newspapers:

Monthly web newspapers:



The Jewish Daily Forward (YiddishפֿאָרווערטסForverts), colloquially called The Forward, is a Jewish-American national newspaperpublished in New York City. The publication began in 1897 as a Yiddish-language daily issued by dissidents from the Socialist Labor Partyof Daniel DeLeon. As a nonprofit publication loosely affiliated with the Socialist Party of AmericaForverts achieved massive circulation and considerable political influence during the first three decades of the 20th Century. The organization today publishes two newspapers, weekly in English (The Forward) and biweekly in Yiddish (Yiddish Forward) or (Forverts) and websites updated daily in both languages.




The first issue of Forverts appeared on April 22, 1897 in New York City.[2] The paper was founded by a group of about 50 Yiddish-speaking socialists who organized themselves approximately three months earlier as the Forward Publishing Association.[2] The paper’s name, as well as its political orientation, was borrowed from the German Social Democratic Party and its organ Vorwärts.

Abraham Cahan, patriarch of The Forward until 1946

Forverts was a successor to New York’s first Yiddish-language socialist newspaper, Di Arbeter Tsaytung (The Workman’s Paper), a weekly established in 1890 by the fledgling Jewish trade union movement centered in the United Hebrew Trades as a vehicle for bringing socialist and trade unionist ideas to non-English speaking immigrants.[3][4] This paper had been merged into a new Yiddish daily called Dos Abend Blatt (The Evening Paper) as its weekend supplement when that publication was launched in 1894 under the auspices of the Socialist Labor Party (SLP).[3] As this publication established itself, it came under increased political pressure from the de facto head of the SLP, Daniel DeLeon, who attempted to maintain a rigid ideological line with respect to its content.[5] It was this centralizing political pressure which had been the motivating factor for a new publication.

Newsboys for the Forward wait for their copies in the early morning hours in March 1913

Chief among the dissident socialists of the Forward Publishing Association were Louis Miller and Abraham Cahan. These two founding fathers of The Forward were quick to enlist in the ranks of a new rival socialist political party founded in 1897, the Social Democratic Party of America, founded by the nationally famous leader of the 1894 American Railroad Union strike, Eugene V. Debs, and Victor L. Berger, a German-speaking teacher and newspaper publisher fromMilwaukee. Both joined the SDP in July 1897.[6]

Despite this political similarity, Miller and Cahan differed as to the political orientation of the paper and Cahan left after just 4 months to join the staff of The Commercial Advertiser, a well-established Republican newspaper also based in New York City.[7]

For the next four years Cahan remained outside of The Forward office, learning the newspaper trade in a financially successful setting. He only returned, he later recalled in his memoirs, upon the promise of “absolute full power” over the editorial desk.[8]

The circulation of the paper grew quickly, paralleling the rapid growth of the Yiddish speaking population of the United States. By 1912 its circulation was 120,000,[9] and by the late 1920s/early 1930s, The Forward was a leading U.S. metropolitan daily with considerable influence and a nationwide circulation of more than 275,000[9][10] though this had dropped to 170,000 by 1939 as a result of changes in U.S. immigration policy that restricted the immigration of Jews to a trickle.[9]

Early on, The Forward defended trade unionism and moderate, democratic socialism. The paper was a significant participant in the activities of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ UnionBenjamin Schlesinger, a former president of the ILGWU, became the General Manager of the paper in 1923, then returned to the Presidency of the union in 1928. The paper was also an early supporter of David Dubinsky, Schlesinger’s eventual successor.

This November 1, 1936, magazine section of The Forward, illustrates its evolution from a Socialist publication to a Social Democratic supporter ofFranklin D. Roosevelt‘s “New Deal”

The most well-known writer in the Yiddish Forward was Isaac Bashevis Singer, who received the Nobel Prize in literature although other well known Socialist literary and political figures, such as Leon Trotsky and Morris Winchevsky have also written for it.

Modern times

By 1962 circulation was down to 56,126 daily and 59,636 Sunday,[11] and by 1983 the newspaper was published only once a week, with an English supplement.[10] In 1990 the English supplement became an independent weekly which by 2000 had a circulation of 26,183, while the Yiddish weekly had a circulation of 7,000 and falling.[12]

As the influence of the Socialist Party in both American politics and in the Jewish community waned, the paper joined the American liberal mainstream though it maintained a social democratic orientation. The English version has some standing in the Jewish community as an outlet of liberal policy analysis.

The Yiddish edition has recently enjoyed a modest increase in circulation as courses in the language have become more popular among university students; circulation has leveled out at about 5,500. The current editor of the Yiddish Forward is Boris Sandler, who is also one of the most significant contemporary secular writers in Yiddish.

For a period in the 1990s, conservatives came to the fore of the English edition of the paper, but the break from tradition didn’t last. A number of conservatives dismissed from The Forward later helped to found the modern New York Sun.

As of 2013, The Forward is published as a newspaper in separate English weekly and Yiddish biweekly editions, and online daily. Each is effectively an independent publication with its own contents. Jane Eisner became the first female Editor-in-Chief of the English Forward in June 2008.[13] The Senior Columnist is J.J. Goldberg, who has served in that role since 2008.[14] The paper maintains a left of center editorial stance.[13]

For a few years, there was also a Russian edition. The website of the Forward describes its formation: “In the fall of 1995 a Russian-language edition of the Forward was launched, under the editorship of Vladimir “Velvl” Yedidowich. The decision to launch a Russian Forward in the crowded market of Russian-language journalism in New York followed approaches to the Forward Association by a number of intellectual leaders in the fast-growing émigré community who expressed an interest in adding a voice that was strongly Jewish, yet with a secular, social-democratic orientation and an appreciation for the cultural dimension of Jewish life.”

The Russian edition was sold to RAJI (Russian American Jews for Israel) in 2004, although initially it kept the name.[15] In contrast to its English counterpart, the Russian edition and its readership were more sympathetic to right-wing voices. In March 2007, it was renamed theForum.

Around the same time in 2004, the Forward Association also sold off its interest in WEVD to The Walt Disney Company‘s sports division, ESPN.

Jewish Daily Forward Building

At the peak of its popularity, the Forward erected a ten-story office building at 175 East Broadway on the Lower East Side, designed by architect George Boehm and completed in 1912. It was a prime location, across the street from Seward Park. The building was embellished with marble columns and panels and stained glass windows. The facade features carved bas relief portraits of Karl MarxFriedrich Engels,[16] (who co-authored, with Marx, The Communist Manifesto) and Ferdinand Lassalle, founder of the first mass German labor party. A fourth relief portrays a person whose identity has not been clearly established, and has been identified as Wilhelm Liebknecht,[17] Karl Liebknecht,[18] or August Bebel.[19][20] In the real estate boom of the 1990s, the building was converted to condominiums.[9][21]

Forward 50

The “Forward 50” is a list of fifty Jewish-Americans “who have made a significant impact on the Jewish story in the past year,” published annually as an editorial opinion of The Forwardnewspaper since 1994.[22] The list was the initiative of Seth Lipsky, founding editor of the English Forward.[23]

According to the newspaper’s website, this is not a scientific study, but rather the opinion of staff members, assisted by nominations from readers. The Forward does not endorse, or support any of the individuals mentioned in the listing. The rankings are divided into different categories (which may vary from year to year): Top Picks, Politics, Activism, Religion, Community, Culture, Philanthropy, Scandals, Sports and, new in 2010, Food.[22]

The list also includes those Jews whose impact in the past year has been dramatic and damaging.[23]

See also

Stop 70: Seward Park

E Broadway, Canal & Essex Streets

Seward Park

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Seward Park
Seward Park, NYC (WTM sheila 0017).jpg

Playground at Seward Park
Location Bounded by Cooperative Village,East Broadway, and Essex Street,New YorkNY 10002
Nearest city New York City
Coordinates 40°42′53″N 73°59′22″WCoordinates40°42′53″N 73°59′22″W
Area 3.046 acres (12,330 m2)
Created 1897
Designer The Outdoor Recreation League
Etymology Named after William Henry Seward
Operated by NYC Parks
Open 1903
Status Open
Website NYC Parks website

The Seward Park Branch of the New York Public Library

Seward Park is a public park and playground in the Lower East Side of the New York City borough of Manhattan, north of East Broadway, east of Essex Street. It is 3.046 acres (12,330 m2) in size and is the first municipally built playground in the United States.[1][2]


The park is named for William Henry Seward, a United States Senator from New York who served from 1849–1861 and later went on to be Secretary of State in the Lincoln administration. The park was built on a condemned piece of property purchased in 1897, former site of the Ludlow Street Jail. New York City lacked the funds to do anything with it, so The Outdoor Recreation League (ORL), a playground and recreation advocacy group that built playgrounds in the undeveloped parks using temporary facilities and equipment, built the park as the first permanent, municipally built playground in the United States.[3]

Opened on October 17, 1903, it was built with cinder surfacing, fences, a recreation pavilion, and children’s play and gymnastic equipment. A large running track encircled the play area and children’s garden. The park became a model for future playground architecture.

The Seward Park Branch of the New York Public Library was built in the southeastern part of the park.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Park was reconstructed. A piece of land was returned to the City.[4] The Schiff Fountain, donated by Jacob H. Schiff, was moved from a nearby park and placed in Seward Park.[5]

Once again, in 1999, Seward received a much needed renovation. Some of the original 1903 plans were restored.

Stop 71: Garden Cafeteria (former)

165 E Broadway

Meeting place for Yiddish writers, poets and actors form the 1920s through the 60s.

Stop 72: Nathan Straus Square

E Broadway, SE corner Essex Street

Straus Square

Named in honour of:

Nathan Straus

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nathan Straus

Nathan Straus (January 31, 1848 – January 11, 1931) was an American merchant and philanthropist who co-owned two of New York City’s biggest department stores – R.H. Macy & Company and Abraham & Straus – before giving away most of his fortune to various projects in Ottoman Palestine.


Nathan Straus was born in OtterbergGermany, to a Jewish family, the third child of Lazarus Straus (1809–1898) and his wife Sara (1823–1876). His siblings were Hermine Straus Kohns (1846–1922), Isidor Straus (1845–1912) and Oscar Solomon Straus (1850–1926). The family moved to the U.S. state of Georgia in 1854. After the American Civil War the family moved to New York City where his father formed L. Straus & Sons, a crockery and glassware firm.

On April 28, 1875, Straus married Lina Gutherz (1854–1930) with whom he had six children, among them State Senator Nathan Straus, Jr.; and Sissie Straus who was married to Chief Judge Irving Lehman (1876–1945).

Macy’s and Abraham & Straus

Straus and his brothers sold crockery to R.H. Macy & Company department store. The brothers became partners in Macy’s in 1888 and co-owners in 1896.

In 1893, he and Isidor bought out Joseph Wechsler from the Abraham and Wechsler dry goods store in Brooklyn, New York, which they renamed Abraham & Straus.[1]

Public service and philanthropy

In the late 1880s, Straus began a period of philanthropy and public service in New York City. He served as New York City Park Commissioner from 1889–1893, president of the New York City Board of Health, 1898,[2] and in 1894 he was selected by Tammany Hall to run for Mayor on the Democratic ticket, but withdrew from the race when his friends in society threatened to shun him if he did.[3]

In 1892, he and his wife privately funded the Nathan Straus Pasteurized Milk Laboratory to provide pasteurized milk to children to combat infant mortality and tuberculosis. In his battles with the disease he opened the Tuberculosis Preventorium for Children at Lakewood Township, New Jersey (later it was moved to Farmingdale, New Jersey in 1909. Their book,Disease in Milk: The Remedy Pasteurization : the Life Work of Nathan Straus records that unclean, unpasteurized milk fed to infants was the chief cause of tuberculosis, typhoid, scarlet fever, diphtheria, murno gladst and other diseases that were the main cause of, e.g. a 25% infant mortality rate in the US in 1890, 15% in 1903 (but 7% in New York in 1900, where pasteurized milk had already become the norm) (it is now below 1% in the US). Straus is credited as the leading proponent of the pasteurization movement that eliminated the hundreds of thousands of deaths per year then due to disease-bearing milk.

During the economic panic of 1893 Straus used his milk stations to sell coal at the very low price of 5 cents for 25 pounds to those who could pay. Those who could not received coal for free. He also opened lodging houses for 64,000 persons, who could get a bed and breakfast for 5 cents, and he funded 50,000 meals for one cent each. He also gave away thousands of turkeys anonymously. At Abraham & Straus, he noticed that two of his employees were starving themselves to save their wages to feed their families, so he established what may have been the first subsidized company cafeteria.

In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, Straus donated an ice plant to SantiagoCuba. He was appointed by U.S. President William Taft sole United States delegate to the International Congress for Protection of Infants, Berlin, 1911, also delegate to the Tuberculosis Congress, Rome, Italy, 1912.[4]

Straus retired in 1914 to devote his time to charity. During winter of 1914-15 served for the unemployed 1,135,731 penny meals from his milk depots in New York City.[4] In 1916, as American entry into World War I loomed, he sold his yacht Sisilina to the Coast Guard and used the proceeds to feed war orphans. Later, he fed returning American servicemen atBattery Park.

Straus donated money to the New York Public Library, specifically targeting young people. The Young People’s Collection at the Donnell Library Center is named for him. He also helped the city’s poorer inhabitants by building a recreational pier, the first of many on the city’s waterfront.

A hall in Nathan Straus Health Center in the late 1920s


In 1912, a trip to Palestine was to affect Straus profoundly. On the trip he became fascinated with the area. His brother Isidor and Isidor’s wife headed back to New York aboard the Titanic and perished when it sank. Feeling he had been spared by divine intervention, he devoted two-thirds of his fortune to helping Palestine. He established a domestic science school for girls in 1912, a health bureau to fight malaria and trachoma, and a free public kitchen. He opened a Pasteur Institute, child-health welfare stations, and then funded the Nathan and Lina Straus Health Centers in Jerusalem (now part of Hadassah Medical Center) and Tel Aviv.

The modern Israeli city of Netanya, founded in 1927, was named in his honor, and Rehov Straus in Jerusalem, which was Chancellor Avenue during the British Mandate, was also named for him.

Nathan Straus died on January 11, 1931, in New York City. Twenty years before, at a dinner in his honor, he had given what could have been his own eulogy.

I often think of the old saying, “The world is my country, to do good is my religion. … This has often been an inspiration to me. I might say, “Humanity is my kin, to save babies is my religion.” It is a religion I hope will have thousands of followers.

Anne Frank connection

Nathan’s son (Nathan Jr., 1889–1961) attended Princeton University and arrived in Heidelberg University in 1908 where he met a young art history scholar named Otto Frank. Otto accepted a job in Macy’s with Nathan Straus, Jr., where he fell in love with New York and its brashness. But in 1909, Otto’s father died and he returned to Germany where he fought inWorld War I and lived to see the time when he and his family would have to leave Germany because of anti-Semitism. One of Otto’s daughters was Anne Frank.[citation needed]

 Shop 73: Mesifta Tifereth Jerusalem

145 E Broadway

Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates40°42.83′0″N 73°59.47′0″W

Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem

Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem (Hebrewמתיבתא תפארת ירושלים‎, Mesivta Tiferet Yerushalayim) is one of the oldest existent yeshivot in New York City, and is renowned for being the institution led by Rabbi Moshe Feinstein.[1]


The yeshiva has two campuses. The older campus at 145 East Broadway offers a full range of classes, from pre kindergarten through post high school. The dean, Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, is Rabbi Moshe Feinstein‘s eldest son. This campus has no dormitory. The second campus, also known as the Yeshiva of Staten Island is led by Rabbi Reuven Feinstein, and contains high school and post high school facilities. It contains a dormitory, located at 1870 Drumgoole Road East, in Staten Island, NY.


Founded in 1907 at 87 Eldridge Street, the Talmud Torah Tifereth Jerusalem grew quickly. First moving to 115 Hester Street, then 240 Madison, then 13 Montgomery Street, the yeshiva finally settled in two adjacent lots on 145 and 147 East Broadway. The current structure was built in 1912. A high school was established in 1929.

Stop 74: Jewish Tenements

137-139 E Broadway

The Herter Brothers designed mansions as well as several tenement buildings for the mass influx of Jewish migrants in the late 1880s. They designed standard five story walk-ups, but initialled their buildings with tera cotta Star of David motifs above the windows.


 Stop 75: Canal Street Theatre

31 Canal Street

Once a silent movie palace, built in the 1920s

Canal Street 

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The former Loew’s Canal Street Theatre at 31 Canal Street, a New York City Landmark

Canal Street is a major east-west street in Lower ManhattanNew York City, running from East Broadway between Essexand Jefferson Streets in the east, to West Street between Watts and Spring Streets in the west. It runs through the neighborhood of Chinatown, and forms the southern boundaries of SoHo and Little Italy as well as the northern boundary of Tribeca. The street acts as a major connector between Jersey City, New Jersey, via the Holland Tunnel (I-78), andBrooklyn, New York City, via the Manhattan Bridge. It is a two-way street for most of its length – from West Street to the Manhattan Bridge – with two unidirectional stretches between Forsyth Street and the Manhattan Bridge.

 Shop 76: Kletzker Brotherly Aid Association (former)

5 Ludlow Street

Organised by a group of Jews from Kletzk in 1892

Now a Chinese funeral parlour

Stop 77: Jarmulowsky’s Bank Building

Canal & Orchid Streets


Jarmulowsky Bank Building

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jarmulowsky Bank Building View.JPG

The Jarmulowsky Bank Building is a 12-story building formerly housing the Jarmulowsky Bank on the Lower East Side of ManhattanNew York City. Located at Canal Street and Orchard Street, the Jarmulowsky Bank Building was built by architects Rouse & Goldstone[1] in 1912, inBeaux-Arts style.[2] The building is faced with limestone at its lower section and architectural terracotta on its higher section.

Sender Jarmulowsky established his bank in 1873. When World War I broke out two years after the bank building was completed, there was a run on the bank, as German investors withdrew funds to send to relatives abroad, and the bank failed.[3]

Until 1990, the building featured a massive tempietto rising 50 feet to a dome ringed by eagles. The building was renovated in 1990 by Sing May Realty and the tempietto destroyed. The building is now used for commercial purposes.

In 2013 the building was slated for conversion into a boutique, luxury hotel.

Stop 78: Home of Ira Gershwin

60 Eldridge Street

Ira Gershwin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ira Gershwin
Ira gershwin.jpg
Background information
Birth name Israel Gershowitz
Also known as Israel Gershvin
Arthur Francis
Born December 6, 1896
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died August 17, 1983 (aged 86)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Genres Popular
Occupations Lyricist
Years active 1910s–1980s

Ira Gershwin (December 6, 1896 – August 17, 1983) was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composerGeorge Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century.[1]

With George he wrote more than a dozen Broadway shows, featuring songs such as “I Got Rhythm“, “Embraceable You“, “The Man I Love” and “Someone to Watch Over Me“. He was also responsible, along with DuBose Heyward, for the libretto to George’s opera Porgy and Bess.

The success the brothers had with their collaborative works has often overshadowed the creative role that Ira played. However, his mastery of songwriting continued after the early death of George. He wrote additional hit songs with composers Jerome Kern (“Long Ago (and Far Away)“), Kurt Weill and Harold Arlen.

His critically acclaimed book Lyrics on Several Occasions of 1959, an amalgam of autobiography and annotated anthology, is an important source for studying the art of the lyricist in the golden age of American popular song.[2]


Gershwin was born Israel Gershowitz in New York City to Morris (Moishe) and Rose Gershovitz who changed the family name to Gershvin well before their children rose to fame (it was not spelled “Gershwin” until later). Shy in his youth, he spent much of his time at home reading, but from grammar school through college he played a prominent part in several school newspapers and magazines. He graduated from Townsend Harris High School in 1914, where he met Yip Harburg, with whom he enjoyed a lifelong friendship, and a love of Gilbert and Sullivan. He attended the City College of New York but dropped out.[3][4]

The childhood home of Ira and George Gershwin was in the center of the Yiddish Theater District, on the second floor at 91 Second Avenue, between East 5th Street and East 6th Street. They frequented the local Yiddish theaters.[5][6][7]

While his younger brother began composing and “plugging” in Tin Pan Alley from the age of eighteen, Ira worked as a cashier in his father’s Turkish baths.[8] It was not until 1921 that Ira became involved in the music business. Alex Aarons signed Ira to write the songs for his next show, Two Little Girls in Blue (written under the pseudonym “Arthur Francis”), ultimately produced by Abraham Erlanger, along with co-composers Vincent Youmans and Paul Lannin. Gershwin’s lyrics were well received, and allowed him to successfully enter the show-business world with just one show.[4] Later the same year the Gershwins collaborated for the first time on a score, for A Dangerous Maid, which played in Atlantic City and on tour.[9]

It was not until 1924 that Ira and George Gershwin teamed up to write the music for their first Broadway hit Lady, Be Good. Once the brothers joined forces, their combined talents became one of the most influential forces in the history of American Musical Theatre. “When the Gershwins teamed up to write songs for Lady, Be Good, the American musical found its native idiom.”[10] Together, they wrote the music for more than twelve shows and four films. Some of their more famous works include “The Man I Love“, “Fascinating Rhythm“, “Someone to Watch Over Me“, “I Got Rhythm” and “They Can’t Take That Away from Me“.[2] Their partnership continued until George’s sudden death from a brain tumor in 1937. Following his brother’s death, Ira waited nearly three years before writing again.

After this temporary retirement, he teamed up with such accomplished composers as Jerome Kern (Cover Girl); Kurt Weill (Where Do We Go from Here? and Lady in the Dark); andHarold Arlen (Life Begins at 8:40A Star Is Born).[4] Over the next fourteen years, Gershwin continued to write the lyrics for many film scores and a few Broadway shows. But the failure of Park Avenue in 1946, a “smart” show about divorce, co-written with composer Arthur Schwartz, was his farewell to Broadway.[11] As he wrote at the time, “Am reading a couple of stories for possible musicalization (if there is such a word) but I hope I don’t like them as I think I deserve a long rest.”[12] In 1947, he took eleven songs George had written but never used, provided them with new lyrics, and incorporated them into the Betty Grable film The Shocking Miss Pilgrim and he later wrote comic lyrics for Billy Wilder‘s movie Kiss Me, Stupid(although most critics believe his final major work was for the 1954 Judy Garland film A Star Is Born).[4]

American singer, pianist and musical historian Michael Feinstein worked for Gershwin in the lyricist’s latter years, helping him with his archive. Several lost musical treasures were unearthed during this period, and Feinstein performed some of the material.[13] Feinstein’s book The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs about working for Ira, and George and Ira’s music was published in 2012.[14]

According to a 1999 story in Vanity Fair, Ira Gershwin’s love for loud music was as great as his wife’s loathing of it. When Debby Boone—daughter-in-law of his neighbor Rosemary Clooney—returned from Japan with one of the first Sony Walkmans (utilizing cassette tape), Clooney gave it to Michael Feinstein to give to Ira, “so he could crank it in his ears, you know. And he said, ‘This is absolutely wonderful!’ And he called his broker and bought Sony stock!”[15]

Awards and honors

Three of Gershwin’s songs (“They Can’t Take That Away From Me” (1937), “Long Ago (And Far Away)” (1944) and “The Man That Got Away” (1954)) were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, though none won.[16]

Gershwin, along with George S Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, was a recipient of the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Of Thee I Sing.[17]

The George and Ira Gershwin Lifetime Musical Achievement Award was established in 1988 by UCLA to honor the brothers for their contribution to music and for their gift to UCLA of the fight song “Strike Up the Band for UCLA”.

Stop 79: Former Synagogue

87 Eldridge

Housed two separate synagogues in the 1920s- Congregation Tifereth Jeshurun and Congregation Chevrah Anshei Grodno v’ Anshei Staputkin

Stop 80: Ridley’s Department Store Site

SE corner Grand and Allen Streets

Photo from the New York Times

See link for article on Ridley’s

0 Replies to “Heritage Walk on the Lower East Side…..continued”

  1. Hi Eli

    I am finding your history lessons in relation to New York to be fascinating and educational, especially as at this stage of my life I have not travelled to that City albeit that for a very short period of time, my late Mother’s Parents fled there from Belarus in the early 1900’s before they chose to travel to and settle in Sydney.

    In the meantime, I am wondering whether you may have thought of any other means to assist me in identifying and locating my late Grandfather’s Family in Vilna or its environs in Lithuania/Russia/Poland before he and his Brother also fled in or about 1900 (so far as the Aussie records seem to suggest although the copy of the Ship Manifest that you forwarded to me indicated 1904) to England where they appear to have settled for a number of years before they arrived in Melbourne in 1908.

    Please acknowledge receipt and let me know whether you feel that you can help me as I do not wish to be a nuisance or to disturb or distract you from your own passionate pursuit of information, history, knowledge and answers to your own obvious curiosity.

    In the meantime, please keep me in the loop in relation to your continuing endeavours which I do find to be amazing, interesting and fascinating.

    Kind regards

    Geoff Frumar

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