Hester Street Fair Celebrates LES History Month with “LES Profiles”

Hester Street Fair LES History

In celebration of Lower East Side History Month Hester Street Fair (HSF) is teaming up with The People’s LES, initiated by Downtown Art and FABnyc, to share stories from their vendors about their history with the neighborhood.  They write: “We ask several local business owners about their history with the LES with a special editorial section on our website. Participants include Aeon Bookstore, Beverly’s, Camille Becerra, Clandestino, JaJaJa, Sky Ting and Regina’s Grocery” The stories will be posted on their website, along with special live programming, here starting tomorrow at 11am.

HSF is continuing their Virtual Saturdays series, with back to back vendor takeovers, online each week from 11a – 6p,

Lower East Side History Month is Happening in May

Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima.

Photo by Cherylynn Tsushima.

Lower East Side History Month, an annual celebration of the neighborhood’s rich and diverse history, is right around the corner. Throughout the month of May, there will be special events, exhibitions, tours and talks highlighting the unique cultures in different parts of our community.

It all starts May 4 and 5, when there will be a chalking project on the streets of the Lower East Side. There’s the Greek Jewish Festival (May 6), the Loisaida Festival (May 27), the Asian Pacific American Heritage Celebration (May 20), the Ukrainian Festival (May 18-20) and the Essex Street Market’s annual block party (May 19).

We’ll have more details in the coming weeks about specific events. In the meantime, you can visit the event website here.

Lower East Side History Month was created by Fourth Arts Block and Downtown Art, with many local organizations and businesses joining in to make it a community-wide happening. 

2017 LES “Community Heroes” Are Announced

Community Hero Awards, 2014. Photo by Whitney Browne.

Community Hero Awards, 2014. Photo by Whitney Browne.

As we noted earlier today, Lower East Side History Month is kicking off this week. One of the featured events in the community-wide celebration is the LES Community Hero Awards.  This year’s winners were announced today. They include:

Crystal Field
Artistic Director and Co-Founder, Theater for the New City

Jimmy Fragosa
Sexton, St. Mark’s Church In-The-Bowery

Corinne Jennings
Co-Founder/Director, Kenkeleba Gallery

Elissa Sampson
Teacher, Scholar, Urban Geographer

Steve Zeitlin
Executive Director, City Lore

Neighbors to Save Rivington House

The awards recognize community members who are “unsung” heroes, in spite of their meaningful contributions to the life of the neighborhood. Nominations were accepted from organizations taking part in LES History Month. The awards will be presented May 18.

Photos: Lower East Side Community Hero Awards

Photo by Whitney Browne.

Photo by Whitney Browne.

This past Thursday night, the annual Lower East Side Community Hero Awards took place at University Settlement. They were presented as part of LES History Month. We were humbled to have been chosen this year among the honorees.

Launched in 2014, the awards recognize the “unsung” heroes of the Lower East Side community. Nominations were open to all organizations participating in history month. Here’s more about the recipients:

Wendy Brawer: Founder of Green Map System, the innovative organization which engages communities worldwide in mapping green living, nature and cultural resources. [Presented by: Aziz Dehkan]

Mike Hoyos: Head printer at Works in Progress, who has mentored and inspired hundreds of young people over the past 20 years. [Presented by Alexander Campaz]

Thea Martinez: Community activist at Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), professional dancer and choreographer, teaching artist. [Presented by: Katrina Cortes]

Harriet Putterman: Board member and activist with the Cooper Square Committee, longtime affordable housing advocate. [Presented by: Steve Herrick]

Michael Zisser: Special acknowledgement for the longtime executive director and CEO of University Settlement and The Door. Zisser is retiring this summer. We’ll publish a profile of Zisser later this week. [Presented by: Melissa Aase]

Traven Rice and Ed Litvak: Co-founders of The Lo-Down. [Presented by: Laurie Tobias Cohen and David Garza]

All photos by Whitney Browne.

Wendy Brawer.

Wendy Brawer

Mike Hoyos.

Mike Hoyos

Thea Martinez.

Thea Martinez


Harriet Putterman

Ed Litvak and Traven Rice

Ed Litvak and Traven Rice

Tomorrow Night: Help Recreate the Great Meat Boycott of 1902

East Side women discussing price of meat. Photo by Bain News Service, [1910 April].

East Side women discussing price of meat. Photo by Bain News Service, [1910 April].

There are only a few days left to celebrate Lower East Side History Month. Here’s one event you might want to check out tomorrow evening (6-7 p.m.).

“The Return of the Great Meat Boycott” will be staged in the Siempre Verde Community Garden on Stanton Street.

The 1902 boycott was a pivotal event in the American activist movement. Housewives mobilized after the food monopolies of the day raised meat prices dramatically. After 20,000 protesters flooded the streets of the Lower East Side, the monopolies backed down and lowered their prices. Here’s part of the Facebook invite:

Bring signs, aprons, wear skirts, or come as you are and add your own [loud] voices to ours. The New York Times in writing about the boycott, condemned the boycotters but also noted: “the disturbances on the crowded east side in this city might give the Beef Combine something to think about rather seriously. [The boycott] is the most violent and general manifestation of resentment toward . . . the Combine that has been made, and it is more noteworthy than anything of its kind that has ever happened in this country.”

The garden is located at Stanton and Attorney streets. This event is co-sponsored by Siempre Verde Garden and the Stanton Street Shul. You can find more LES History Month events here.


Opening Tonight: Special Exhibition on Robert Moses’ Lower Manhattan Expressway


Lower East Side History Month is in full swing at locations throughout the neighborhood. One event that caught our eye is this — a special exhibition on Robert Moses’ ill-fated plan to create a Lower Manhattan Expressway. It’s a collaboration between Fourth Arts Block and miLES.

It’s a condensed version of the exhibition produced by the NYC Department of Records and Municipal Archives. The opening reception takes place tonight. Here’s more info from the press materials:

In the Shadow of the Highway: Robert Moses’ Expressway and the Battle for Downtown returns as part of Lower East Side (LES) History Month this May 9-15… (The) exhibit was first mounted in October 2015 and is a collaborative effort between NYC Department of Information and Services, the Below the Grid Lab, and the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University. Robert Moses’ plan for: a 10-lane downtown expressway (Lower Manhattan Expressway or LOMEX) would have cut through Soho and Little Italy and would have invariably shaped the physical, socio-economic, and political landscape of the Lower East Side. A timely coincidence with Jane Jacobs 100 celebrations, In the Shadow of the Highway is an ever relevant reminder that amidst New York City’s inevitable cycles of “creative destruction,” our rich history of activism and civic engagement remain an important piece of the urban development pie. The exhibit invites you to dip into the past, not just to a physical moment but also a particular socio-political moment of agitation; idealized mock-ups and illustrations of the LOMEX’s potential imposition will sit alongside video testimonials from grassroot activists, a construction of imagined expressway, and a sound installation that re-enacts the 1962 Board of Estimate hearing that ultimately defeated the plan.

There are two free tours being offered in conjunction with the exhibit (tonight at 5 p.m. and Saturday, May 14 at 3:30 p.m.) Tonight’s opening reception takes place tonight at 6:30 p.m. at 103 Allen St. More info here.

LOMEX Opening Invite

PS122’s Mobile Walking Tour Debuts Tomorrow


Performance Space 122’s building on East 9th Street has been under renovation for the past three years. While it’s not expected to reopen until next year, there’s an opportunity tomorrow to connect with the venerable art institution’s history.

There’s a kickoff event at 2 p.m. for a new self-guided smartphone walking tour. Here’s a blurb:

Performance Space 122’s Mobile Walking Tour connects the history of performance with the history of our neighborhood through a free self-guided mobile tour. Users are led to several locations around the Lower East Side which were each home to seminal moments in performance history. Each location features site-specific video content playable on your smartphone discoverable via links marked by a chalked stencil design and can be navigated through the mobile site… Featuring interviews from prominent artists and curators reflecting on the unique history of the East Village such as John Collins, Jack Ferver, Dean Moss, Katherine Profeta, Salley May, Mark Russell, Kaneza Schaal, Lucy Sexton and more!

Featured on the tour, which will be available all this month are:

A bit more background via a piece yesterday in the New York Times:

Vallejo Gantner, PS122’s artistic director, worries that young artists don’t know that the organization is part of the East Village, and neither will some of its neighbors when it reopens, which it expects to do next year. He doesn’t want it to seem, he said, as if “we parachuted in.” … The challenge is to talk about the artistic exploration that has happened there, but “in a way that is not just about nostalgia.” He would like to see PS122 remain the “hub of an innovative, generative culture,” even if East Village rents mean fewer of its artists live around the corner. “That ethos doesn’t have to die just because the neighborhood’s changed,” he said. “Because that’s the thing that made it interesting, and will make it interesting in the future.”
RSVP is required to attend tomorrow’s kickoff. More info about the tour here.  The event is part of Lower East Side History Month. Several other LES walking tours are being offered over the weekend. Here’s a summary.

“LES Love Mob” on Clinton Street Thursday, May 21

Lower East Side History Month Kicks Off in May

LES History Month: Biography Project Screenings, Bowery on Film, Lost Cultural Spaces

Photos: Chalk/LES at the Picnic on Pier 42

Event organizers kick off History Month with U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez.

Event organizers kick off History Month with U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez.

We have a few more photos from Pier 42 yesterday, where LES History Month made its official debut. Thanks to Tim Schreier for these shots.

LES History Month Opens at Pier 42 Sunday