Henry Street Looking For Volunteers to Test Walking Tour App


Here’s something for Lower East Side history buffs. Henry Street Settlement is looking for volunteets interesting in taking part in a focus group for a new history walking tour app.

The app is part of new historical project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  If you’re willing to take part, you’ll get a Henry Street coffee mug, plus free refreshments. The focus group takes place Thursday from 3-5 p.m.

Please email info@henrystreet.org, with WALKING TOUR in the subject line.


Henry Street Settlement Now Owns Historic Firehouse

Photo courtesy of Henry Street Settlement.

Photo courtesy of Henry Street Settlement.

Henry Street Settlement is announcing today that it has completed the purchase of a former firehouse at 269 Henry St.  The three-story building, located next door to the social service organization’s headquarters, will eventually be home to Henry Street’s local resource center and parent center.

The property was transferred from the city yesterday,  after Henry Street Settlement paid $1. Back in 2014, we told you about renovation plans for the 143-year-old building, which were expected to cost $5.5 million. The facility will become a kind-of “front door” for the organization, one of the oldest and largest non-profit institutions in New York. Henry Street has been working to acquire the building for more than a decade.

The firehouse was closed following the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Engine Company 15, which operated from the building, was moved to Pitt Street.  The new facility will be named the Dale Jones Burch Neighborhood Center at Henry Street Settlement. Renovations are being made possible by the Burch Foundation, along with other donors.

The new space will be handicapped (and stroller) accessible. Community members will be able to access free legal and financial counseling,  benefits screening and enrollment in food stamps and affordable health insurance. It’s also where Henry Street will offer its parenting workshops and classes.

“We are eagerly anticipating this critical addition to the Settlement,” said Henry Street Settlement Executive Director David Garza. “Traditionally an anchor for the community, the firehouse will again play the role of ‘first responder’ for families in crisis – this time ADA-compliant and accessible to all.”

The center is expected to open in the year 2020. The renovation is being overseen by the architectural firm,  Beyer Blinder Belle.  Next year, Henry Street Settlement will celebrate its 125th anniversary.

Rendering of new Neighborhood Resource Center, 269 Henry St. Architect: Beyer Blinder Belle.

Rendering of Dale Jones Burch Neighborhood Center at Henry Street Settlement. Architect: Beyer Blinder Belle.

Henry Street Settlement Holds Town Hall Meeting on Sunday

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Coming up on Sunday, Henry Street Settlement is hosting a town hall meeting to find out what issues matter most to people on the Lower east Side.

The event takes place from 3-6 p.m. at 301 Henry St. Dinner will be served. Translation services will be available in Sapnish and Chinese, and there’s also childcare for anyone who needs it.

See the Facebook invite for more details.

Lower East Side Rabbi Objects to Henry Street Settlement’s Invitation to Linda Sarsour

Photo via Democracy Now.

Photo via Democracy Now.

Controversy is brewing over an appearance at Henry Street Settlement next week by Palestinian activist Linda Sarsour. She’s one of the speakers at the Lillian Wald Symposium, which this year is titled, “Immigrant New York: The New Majority.” The CUNY School of Public Health has also faced criticism for inviting Sarsour to serve as commencement speaker this year.

There’s an open letter today in The Jewish Press from Rabbi Zvi Romm of the Bialystoker Synagogue to David Garza, executive director of Henry Street Settlement. The Lo-Down asked Henry Street for a response. This afternoon we’re publishing both statements in full. First, Rabbi Romm:

Dear Mr. Garza,

I hope you are well. I’m writing you with regard to the upcoming ‘Lilian Wald Symposium’ on ‘Immigrant New York: The New Majority,’ to be held at the Abrons Art Center on May 16th. The Henry Street Settlement is proudly promoting Linda Sarsour as a panelist at the symposium.

We, the members of the Bialystoker Synagogue, are happy to be next-door neighbors of the Henry Street Settlement. But we are profoundly disturbed by the fact that our neighbors have given Ms. Sarsour this platform.

Ms. Sarsour has been an outspoken supporter of the BDS movement, seeking to damage the State of Israel economically. She has declared that one cannot be a Zionist and a feminist, as Palestinian women are oppressed – ignoring the many, many abuses of women’s rights which are rampant in the Arab world surrounding Israel. She has tweeted that a young Palestinian boy going to throw stones at Israeli soldiers is the ‘definition of courage.’ She has stated that there is ‘nothing creepier than Zionism.’

We, who love and support the State of Israel, are appalled by these positions and statements. By giving Linda Sarsour such a prominent platform, we feel that the Henry Street Settlement is indirectly expressing its tolerance of these anti-Israel positions.

We feel that it is incredibly important that the Henry Street Settlement clearly and unambiguously state that it does not endorse Ms. Sarsour’s positions on Israel and Zionism. As Israel marks its sixty-ninth anniversary, we would greatly appreciate a statement from Henry Street Settlement celebrating the State of Israel, the only full democracy in the Middle East.

Rabbi Zvi Romm.

And Henry Street Settlement’s response:

Since its founding, Henry Street has been an institution characterized by its openness to all voices and a place where ideas, some considered controversial, are exchanged. We fervently believe that if we only speak to ourselves, without listening to other viewpoints, learning will not occur and progress will not be made. In fact, the opportunity to learn from diverse perspectives is one of the intentions of the Lillian Wald Symposium.

The decision to include Linda Sarsour as one of the panelists at our upcoming Symposium, Immigrant New York, the New Majority:  Policy, Politics and Programs is being challenged by some individuals and groups.  They are calling for us to rescind our invitation to Ms. Sarsour.  That would be anathema to our history as a champion of freedom of speech.

An invitation to participate in a program or forum at Henry Street is not an organizational endorsement of the views held by any of our guests.  Our panelists – Shanna Castillo, Director, Resident Economic Empowerment & Sustainability, NYCHA; Zeinab Eyega, Executive Director of Sauti Yetu Center for African Women & Families; Wayne Ho, President and CEO of the Chinese-American Planning Council; Philip Kasinitz, Ph.D., Presidential Professor of Sociology at CUNY; Baseera Khan, a 2017 Abrons Artist in Residence;; Bitta Mostofi, Assistant Commissioner, NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; and Linda Sarsour, Racial Justice/Civil Rights Activist – were selected based on their experience with respect to one or more facets of immigration or immigrant communities.

The Symposium’s topic – Immigrant New York – will not include discussion of Israel, Zionism, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, and will be focused on the subject of immigration in New York City. 

The Lillian Wald Symposium, our second annual, is intended to create a forum for meaningful discussion on a topic that is relevant to our constituents and stakeholders.  We will also be providing immigration services resource material directly to the community at the event.

You can learn more about the Lillian Wald Symposium here.


Henry Street Settlement Receives $360,000 NEH Grant For Historical Exhibition

Archival photo: Henry Street Settlement's summer camp.

Archival photo: Henry Street Settlement’s summer camp.

Henry Street Settlement has received a coveted grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to tell its own story. The NEH awarded the historic Lower East Side social services organization $360,000 for a permanent exhibition called, “The House on Henry Street: Settlements, Public Health and Social Reform.”

Here’s more about the initiative from a press release put out earlier today:

This extraordinary multi-platform project will explore social activism, urban poverty and public health through the lens of Henry Street’s history.  Its centerpiece will be a permanent interactive exhibition in the Settlement’s c. 1830 landmarked headquarters at 265 Henry St. A web-based exhibition with curriculum materials for high school and college teachers will deepen the interpretation, and a walking tour app for mobile devices will take the story to the streets of the Lower East Side. In addition to the exhibition on the first floor, the entire headquarters – the historic dining room, Lillian Wald’s original bedroom, the garden and nurses’ dorm rooms – will be labeled and interpreted, enabling visitors to not only learn the Settlement’s history, but also to tour the modern-day working social service agency. A public historian will be hired for 18 months, and will create public programs of interest to the Settlement community, one that has traditionally lacked access lacks to the humanities, and others. The project will be the centerpiece of Henry Street’s 125th anniversary which the Settlement will celebrate in 2018.

In a separate news release, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez said, “The funding provided by NEH will reaffirm and support Henry Street’s longstanding commitment to bringing the humanities to underserved communities…Henry Street has a long track record of expanding educational opportunity in our neighborhood and this grant will help further that mission.”

It is, of course, an anxious time for social service and arts organizations nationwide, since the Trump administration is threatening to de-fund many of the agencies that support their work, including the NEH.


Summer Movies in Seward Park: Wreck-It Ralph


Seward Park movie night is back as part of their outdoor summer series, in partnership with Seward Park Conservancy, The Metrograph Theater and Henry Street Settlement. Starting at dusk, enjoy a screening of Wreck-It Ralph on Tuesday, August 16th. The screening is free AND popcorn is provided. Bring your own picnic and a blanket or chairs.

If you prefer your movies indoors, the Metrograph has a plethora of screenings from Disco and the Movies to Roald Dahl Weekend Matinees. Check out the schedule here for a full list of screenings.

Photos: Art Show Gala Preview to Benefit Henry Street Settlement

Steve Martin. Photos by Alex Escalante.

Steve Martin. Photos by Alex Escalante.

The Art Show Gala Preview is definitely an uptown event, but the Lower East Side still plays a starring role. This is because the annual event at the Park Avenue Armory benefits Henry Street Settlement.

Among the guests perusing works from 72 galleries Tuesday evening was comedian Steve Martin. New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham was there to capture the scene.

The show is coordinated by the Art Dealers Association of America. It’s open for general admission through Sunday. Hours are noon-8 p.m. today and Friday;noon-7 p.m. Saturday; and noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $25. Tickets are available here or at the door. The Armory is located on Park Avenue at 67th Street. Ticket sales as well as auction proceeds benefit Henry Street’s many programs on the Lower East Side and throughout New York City.




New Ramp is Part of Face Lift For Good Companions Senior Center

Good Companions Senior Center.

Good Companions Senior Center.

It took almost a decade to complete, but everyone was all smiles at the Good Companions Senior Center Friday for the unveiling of a new ramp leading into the facility.

The center, located at 334 Madison St., is in the Vladeck public housing development. It’s run by Henry Street Settlement. Back in 2006, City Council member Rosie Mendez paid a visit to the Vladeck Houses, noticing that the ramp was very steep. “That incline was bad on my knees,” she explained, “so I know it had to be a challenge for our seniors.” The first round of funding for the project came in fiscal year 2008 from both Mendez and the Manhattan Borough President’s office. Over time, Mendez allocated about $965,000 for the project. The ramp was redesigned and there were, of course, the usual NYCHA bureaucratic delays.

On Friday, Mendez was joined by City Council member Margaret Chin, NYCHA officials, Henry Street Settlement head David Garza and Nancy Ortiz, tenant association president of the Vladeck Houses. As part of the project, new lighting was installed alongside the ramp. More improvements are ahead at the senior center, including ADA-compliant bathrooms and a revamped kitchen. “This is going o be an incredible center when it’s complete,” said Mendez, “and that’s what our seniors deserve.”

The Good Companions Senior Center is part of a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC).

good companions ramp

good companions inside

City Council Approves Transfer of Fire House to Henry Street Settlement

Jayson Williams Returns to Lower East Side For Mentorship Program

Henry Street Settlement Celebrates Playhouse Centennial

Henry Street Settlement Announces $20 Million Renovation; Firehouse, Amphitheater Revamps Planned

Rendering of new Neighborhood Resource Center, 269 Henry St. Architect: Beyer Blinder Belle.

Rendering of new Neighborhood Resource Center, 269 Henry St. Architect: Beyer Blinder Belle.

The Henry Street Settlement is preparing a major upgrade of its Lower East Side facilities, including the renovation of an historic firehouse, creating a new Neighborhood Resource Center, and the transformation of the amphitheater at the Abrons Arts Center.  Fundraising for the project, which now carries a $20 million price tag, is nearly complete. Henry Street is a little more than $3 million away from achieving its goal.

GrowNYC Youthmarket Returns to Grand Street Thursday

Henry Street Throws a Block Party For Lillian Wald; You’re Invited to Bake a Cake!

You’re Invited: Henry Street Settlement Town Hall April 6