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My LES: Marisa Scheinfeld

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This popular feature spotlights a wide variety of people who live and work on the Lower East Side. If you know someone you would like to suggest be featured in “My LES,” please email us here.


What do you do?

I am a photographer. My work is fueled by my interest in histories and most often by the ruin. My current project imparts a contemporary view of the former Borscht Belt in Upstate New York. The area is notable for a vibrant entertainment and tourism industry that peaked in the 1950s and subsequently declined. If you don’t know of it, think of the movie Dirty Dancing and you’ll get the idea.

I grew up in the region and spent time at many of its hotels as a kid. As an adult and as a photographer, I have been photographing the various hotels that remain, in ruin. In its peak the total amount of hotels numbered 600. The project carries important personal as well as collective weights. It’s also one quite linked to the LES, as many of the neighborhood’s former Jewish population used to vacation there in the summer.

I also work for the Claims Conference – an organization that seeks reparation for victims of Nazi persecution. I work in the sector of the organization dedicated to projects relating to the research, education and documentation of the Holocaust.

How long have you lived on the LES?

Unofficially a little over a year but on paper about 5 months. I was previously living out west for 7 ½ years. My roots run deep here though. My grandfather used to own a fabric store on Grand Street, called Fabric World, for 30 years. It has since burned down. What truly fascinates me about the neighborhood are the countless stories and sense of raw histories that occurred on its streets. I also enjoy the juxtaposition of the old and the new.

Favorite block in the hood?

Orchard between Broome and Grand because of its many food options and shops. I also am partial to Eldridge Street between Hester and Canal because I enjoy going to the Synagogue & Museum.

Favorite date spot in the hood?

Freeman’s or Spur Tree. Both have great food and I like the vibes.

Favorite coffee in the hood?

I must admit I go to Russ and Daughter’s first. Next would be Roasting Plant or Caffe Vita. I also like Press Tea for times when I don’t want coffee but still want some caffeine.

Favorite cheap eats in the hood?

An Choi or Vanessa’s Dumplings.

Where do you take your visitors when they’re here?

Katz’s because of its proximity of being right across the street from my apartment also because it is a LES classic. Afterward to Il Laboratorio for dessert.

Favorite dive bar (or hangout) in the hood?

I am not really a drinker so I’d say that my favorite place to go hang out is the M’finda Kaluga Community Garden on Chrystie Street at Rivington. It’s got an interesting history and the volunteers are really nice.

How has the neighborhood changed in the last few years?

I haven’t been a resident of the hood’ for long but I’ve already noticed many places closing and even more opening. Despite the incessant development, I do hope the area somehow maintains and preserves a sense of its deep history and that its profound past does not become overshadowed by its impending future.

Favorite LES memory?

My favorite LES memory is of my grandpa Jack bringing us tubs of pickles from Guss’ Pickles, which used to be on Orchard. I’m a romantic at heart so I also have to say that my other favorite memory is falling in love on Ludlow Street, where I now live.

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