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Another Look: The Lower East Side Street Named For a Soviet Spy

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samuel dickstein plaza

Washington is, of course, consumed by the growing scandal around Team Trump’s ties to Russia and the investigation of Russian interference in the American presidential election. This week the New York Times reminds us that a son of the Lower East Side was a Soviet spy and that there’s still a street in this neighborhood named in his honor.

It has been known since 1999 that Congressman Samuel Dickstein supplied information to the Soviets for three years beginning in 1937 and was paid for his efforts. Samuel Dickstein Plaza is a one block stretch between East Broadway and Grand Street named for him. Back in 2010, Susan LaRosa of Henry Street Settlement began looking into renaming the street for Lillian Wald, founder of the social service organization. She started a petition in 2013.

Here’s an update:

(LaRosa) had collected about 300 signatures when she was told that she needed to obtain them from people living adjacent to the Dickstein Plaza signs. “It was a certain high percentage of the residents of those buildings I needed, and it became very time-consuming,” Ms. LaRosa said. She suspended her one-woman quest to focus on her duties at Henry Street. “We’re very leanly staffed,” she said. “I didn’t have the luxury of extra people or extra time to put into this.” She still doesn’t. But as the weather warms, Ms. LaRosa is considering picking up her clipboard again and trying to collect the signatures she was told were needed to get the matter brought before the City Council.

LaRosa wrote an opinion piece on the subject for The Lo-Down in 2013.

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