Walks in New York and elsewhere

My comments on buildings, shops, restaurants that catch my eye as I wander around New York City and other places.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Monday, October 31, 2005

Walking westward

Wherever there is a place to sit, people will be sitting. This is a little triangle near the place where East Broadway intersects with Grand Street. These people have probably lived in the nearby Seward Park development since the beginning.

On East Broadway, across the way, is a very impressive building that was designed in 1904 by Sass & Smallheiser as a settlement house along the lines of the YMCA, although, to be sure, not with a Christian program in this heavily Jewish neighborhood. It is now a mikveh, (the sign on the door says "Ritualarium") a place where ritual baths are taken by Orthodox Jews. It is a sign that there are also young Orthodox Jewish families in the neighborhood.

Take a detour to the right, onto Willett Street, to see the Bialystoker Synagogue.

This fieldstone building, dating from 1826, was originally the Willett Street Methodist Episcopal Church. The style and character of the building suggest the kind of quiet, upscale neighborhood this was immediately following the Revolutionary War. The church became a synagogue in 1878, when a group of Jewish emigres from the town of Bialystok, Poland bought it for that purpose. The synagogue is still very active. This is not the only federal era building we will see on Grand Street, but it is the one in the best condition. The building is a New York City designated landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


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