The Lower East Side and Bowery
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In early 2008, I began working with the historian-author Joyce Mendelsohn to update her 2001 guidebook, The Lower East Side Remembered & Revisited. We spent many weekends over the next six months roaming the area that had been home to the immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe during the waves of immigration that had flooded into New York in the late 19th and early 20th century. Today, the Lower East Side has become trendy: boutiques and high-rise buildings vie with the 19th century tenements, in a jumble of the old and new. Yuppies and wealthy Europeans rub shoulders with the Asians and Latinos who have lived there for generations. New construction is everywhere; often we would return to a site to find that the wreckers had been there between our visits, leaving a gaping, boarded-up hole where a building had recently stood. Working with Joyce was like taking a guided tour with an expert guide who would every few minutes say, “I’d like a picture of that…” We documented tenements and butcher shops, fancy hotels and rundown synagogues, and between her words and my pictures, we captured the essence of an historic neighborhood that is undergoing rapid change. The Lower East Side Remembered & Revisited, updated and with a new tour of the Bowery added, was published by Columbia University Press in 2009.