Images of Lechovichers in the Lower East Side of Manhattan 1880s-1920s
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Lechovichers who settled in the Lower East Side of Manhattan These are the streets to which every Lechovicher emigrant to NYC was heading in the 1880s-1910s. Later Brooklyn's neighborhoods as well as the Bronx and Queens, became part of the everyday landscape but at the turn of the century, Lechovichers were right here.
This page is one of a series on Lechovicher settlement in US between the 1880s and 1920s .This is not an attempt to document the Jewish community on the Lower East Side, one of the largest and most vibrant communities of Jews from around the world between the 1880s and 1920s. It is simply a quick overview of some of the resources related to Lyakhovichi's emigrees who also settled in the physical borders of the Manhattan neighborhood next to the East River between 1880 and the 1920s. This page concentrates on visual references that can place one address in relation to another, or can provide the context to inform us as to the hospitals, schools, and community resources that might offer Lyakhovichi relevant material. It offers new resources related to records created inside the borders of this community. This includes the lists of men inspected by five different Lower East Side Draft boards for determining recruitment and exemption. The primary board was that of the Hester and Essex Street Draft Board in August and September 1917. Lists of men who were actually enrolled in the service are often very difficult to determine from other records. It is also scheduled to include (but may have to wait until Spring 2009) reports by the Public Health Department in the 1918 Flu Epidemic that listed deaths by district. Both of these lists have been compiled by the Webmaster from reports filed at the time of the events. We hope to include material extracted relevant to the Brooklyn districts in which Lechovichers settled in this time period, in another update. Contact the webmaster if you are interested in the draft information from other parts of the city, which has also been gathered, we can only publish materials most likely to be Lyakhovichi-relevant here. I want to add details for Lechovichers gleaned from newstories on building conditions, businesses, and community events, in the future.
Hester Street Map
Real Estate Atlas, GB Bromley, 1899
from the collections of the New York Public Library
Click on the Map to go to a Larger Image
Hester Street, Allen Street, Forsyth, Eldridge, Chrystie, East Broadway, Division, Bayard, and Canal:
The Map above is this area in 1899. You can also go to Hester Street Map 1916 to see a later map from the same collection.
As you look at this page, you will note it is very much in-progress. Send emails sharing stories you were told about your family when they lived here, send us information on which streets your family lived on, and what they did for a living. Maybe we can find pictures of their buildings, maybe we can find a news article about their neighbors, maybe we can learn new things about the Lechovichers in NYC that will inform us about their parents and siblings who stayed behind!
Public School Number 7
The school had traditions dating to 1829 but this was a brand new building which cost almost half a million dollars to construct in 1892. In addition to the thousands of children enrolled in the grammar school it also had a large evening school attendance by adults. The graduations, Flag Day ceremonies, first day events, were the fodder for newspaper articles for decades. See Public School No. 7 Dedication in 1893. Even newsitems that only incidentally touched on the school, like a fire down the street, were more newsworthy if this expensive new school was impacted. See 1905 Hester Street Fire. Both of these articles are from the New York Times Archive. You can use the name of the school when looking in longer lists for grammar school graduates, new admissions, and the graduation of adults from evening classes.
93 Hester Street and 105 Hester Street
Though these were two different addresses at which Bnai Isaac Anshe Lechowitz rented synagogue space, in 1973 the demolished buildings included at both addresses were combined in a single apartment house called "45 Allen House". Thanks to Robert Chin who has an amazing photo gallery of properties all through this neighborhood, now in the heart of New York's Chinatown, at his site www.nychinatown.org. Mr. Chin has not only shared his copyright photos for our special use but he offered important research information on finding tax photos, building surveys, and details on the Oasis Map program.
3 Bayard Street
first home of Bnai Isaac Anshe Lechowitz in 1889-1892. This building is also long gone, identified today by Robert Chin as the site of Confucius Plaza.
49 Orchard Street
The home of A. Gutterman's Funeral Home
A. Gutterman Letterhead, 1920s
this is a copy of a photocopy. If you have a clearer image, we would love to publish it!
Abraham Gutterman established a livery business in 1890. The business had begun in a stable on Allen Street but the next year Gutterman acquired the store front on the same building that faced out into Orchard Street and began specializing in funeral services. In 1892, his services were very simple, taking the body from a home where a service was conducted, to the cemetery. Eventually he offered coffins, transportation of the family, and making the arrangements for services in the home, the synagogue, or graveside. A receipt for his full services in 1920 displayed by the Tenement Museum, shows that the total of such costs had not yet passed one hundred dollars. The business followed its customers and moved three times. Almost all of the Lechovicher Society's burials at three cemeteries for more than sixty years were by Gutterman's, with virtually no competition during the heyday of the firm. The moves to the various addresses to best serve the Jewish community in the 1920s and the 1940s, Mr. Gutterman's great-grandson Lawrence Gutterman tells me, are the reason that the old records no longer exist. Lawrence Gutterman is part of a Jewish family funeral service firm that proudly claims service to the Jewish community in three separate centuries - Gutterman Brothers, whose website is www.guttermanbrothers.com. There are also other descendants of Abraham Gutterman, who just as proudly assert the same lineage for the service they provide, operating Guttermans Inc. (and the website www.guttermansinc.com) which also serves the Jews of New York and North Jersey. Perhaps they will be able to direct us to other materials. A third Gutterman establishment which served the needs of the Jewish community of Jersey City, including the approximately hundred-strong from Lyakhovichi was the Wien Funeral home, today combining the names of its various lineages as Gutterman and Musicant Funeral Directors and Wien and Wien Memorial Chapel. This picture of a horse-drawn hearse of the 1890s is from the www.guttermanmusicantwien.com site which offers information on the services they still provide to those who grieve in Jersey City, NJ.
26 Canal Street
We have a list of fifty different Lechovichers who lived in this corner building at different times, many arriving to stay at the apartment of Sam and Ida Cohen (ne Simcha and Chaya (Shwartz) Kirshner), Lechovichers who practiced the mitzvah of welcoming guests into their home when they arrived in the New World. Some moved on within days, others added to the family's small income with lodging fees. The photo of Sam and Ida was taken either in their apartment or a few doors away at the photographer A. Smith at 42 Canal Street.
Their building is described by the City of New York as a five story building with a frontage of 28ft and a depth of 20+ ft. Each of the floors of the building thus boasted somewhat less than 560 ft including spaces for stairs and hallways. Today there are four residential units and two for non-residential use (basement and first floor store). It gives an approximate year of construction of 1900. We know of Lechovichers arriving in the building in 1902, the Kirshner-Cohens moving in in 1904 and the family remaining in the building to take in visiting Lechovichers until after 1912. You can still appreciate today, that the corner location provides a large amount of window space to on every floor, no doubt adding to the attraction of the lodgings. During all the time of high Lechovicher density, the building was practically brand new, in contrast to the many buildings on streets around it - the majority on Allen and Hester in this time period were approaching fifty years old in 1900. Building information was derived from the site of www.oasisnyc.org.
The building may have been new in 1900 but if so it was not the first building on that site, a New York Times article complaining about Tammany machine politics gaming the tax system gives a list of tax rates in the seventh ward including 26 Canal Street dated November 2, 1890 that cites the 1880 and 1890 taxation of 26 Canal owned by Edward Keen.
26 Canal Street
(the five story corner property)
photo by Robert Chin, copyright 2008
The Gouvernor Hospital first opened in the heart of the Lower East Side on a piece of property on the so-called Gouvernor's Slip next to the East River in 1885. But the original building with
no operating room and a custom of using the surrounding area as an open air market, which resulted in pushcarts and ambulances coming into daily confrontation, soon required an upgrade to the premises. Between 1897 and 1901, an elegant architect-designed structure went up in red brick, and was completed in 1901 (though it continued to be modified through the years). It was used until 1959 when replaced by a same-named Hospital at Madison and Jefferson Streets. But the building at Gouvernors Slip and Water Street was the one that the Lechovichers who settled these streets knew.
The Essex Market Police Court, 1893 (postcard)
THE THIRD DISTRICT, or Essex Market Police Court, has jurisdiction over "the great East Side." Catharine Street, the Bowery, Fourteenth Street, and the East River, constitute its boundaries. The precincts represented in the district are the Seventh, Tenth, Eleventh, Thirteenth, and Seventeenth.
Our Police Protectors, History of the New York Police, Published for the benefit of the Police Pension Fund, by Augustine Costello, Published by Author, 1885. and published and reprinted at http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ny/state/police/ch23pt1.html
Essex Market Police Court
In addition to this lithograph from a photo of 1893, we also have a number of newspaper reports from the 1870s through the first quarter of the Twentieth Century. This was the court in which petty crimes were prosecuted and to which the Police of Precint #10 brought those in their jurisdiction. A google search brings up hits with still-known names like Samuel Gompers who lived on Stanton Street, to small scale pick-pockets, not even notable in their own time, who inhabited the same area. Read this hilarious report of an 1883 Synagogue altercation in the 101 Hester Street premises of "Anshe Chesed B'nai Kovanah" 1883 Court Case of synagogue at 101 Hester Street. The next article we post shows Jews among the petty crooks of the Police Court too. Synagogue robbers. In another crime reported in the New York Times, we find Jews among the stableboys, the street urchins, and the citizenry rushing to the aid of a police officer who had been out on disability (just released from the hospital) at the time of he was assaulted on their streets. It happened in 1896 in front of A. Gutterman's stables on Allen Street. Gutterman was a well-known Jewish community member who had transformed his general haulage and livery firm in the 1890s to a funeral service, to which several well known firms in the New York City and Northern New Jersey area still trace their lineage of service. The news report is interesting a number of ways. We learn about police stations on Madison and on Eldridge. We learn that a police officer had a regular post on Hester Street, from which he rushed to the aid of his fallen comrade on Allen. Ambulances from Gouvernor Hospital were called, but not being able to wait, the stricken man was put into an express wagon (of Guttermans?) and he was diagnosed by the "ambulance surgeon." Police Officer Murdered 1896. In many of the cases that appear in the newspapers, the Jewish citizens of the area were the complainant, in others they were the accused, in hundreds of cases they were the witnesses and bystanders and people operating their places of business, at the time a problem occurred.
The photo of the court premises in 1893 certainly looks respectable but the conditions in the Police Court building at Essex Street were less than optimal for conduct of affairs of justice. Reports from the 1870s to the 1910s complained of noxious fumes from a coal furnace put in before the Civil War, of a lack of desks, tables, writing implements, seats for those waiting, et al.
This is the description of the new Police Court System in which the Essex Market Court functioned, set up in 1873:
The Police Courts are held by eleven Police Justices or Magistrates appointed by the Mayor of the city, under the provisions of the statute of 1873, and holding office for terms of varying duration. They receive salaries of eight thousand dollars per annum each, and are distributed into six courts, as follows: Tombs, two Justices; Jefferson Market, two Justices; Essex market, two Justices; Yorkville, or fifty-seventh Street, two Justices; Harlem, two Justices; Tremont, one Justice; the last tribunal having been created by the Act which provided for the annexation of the new Wards formerly in Westchester County.
Although two Justices are assigned to each of the courts, excepting the court at Tremont, but one sits at a time. For a week each assigned Justice holds court in his district, examining prisoners, receiving complainants, issuing warrants, taking bail, and discharging all the business of a Police Court. The succeeding week is an off week with him, unless he happens to sit three times during the week in the Court of Special Sessions, or unless examinations of any length are set down before him during the week. The source goes on to detail the responsiblities of the different districts. The most cases being arraigned in the First District (the Tombs), stepping down several orders of magnitude to the other districts. In 1884 over 50,000 criminal cases were tried in these Police Courts. Our Police Protectors, History of the New York Police, Published for the benefit of the Police Pension Fund, by Augustine Costello, Published by Author, 1885. and published and reprinted at http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ny/state/police/ch23pt1.html
Hester Street Police Officer in 1902
a detail from a large photograph of the street with crowds and market activity
Ambulance Districts The same police history just stated, also tells us that the city set up Ambulance Districts by Police Precints. At the 1884 date of publication - the seventh and tenth precints were in the CHAMBERS STREET HOSPITAL DISTRICT which included the First, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Tenth, Twenty-sixth, and Twenty-seventh Precincts. The Chambers Street Hospital was from 1875 until 1894 located in a building that was itself, initially a police station. It was located at 165 Chambers Street and so called popularly by its location though officially it was designated the House of Relief. (Source: The Memorial History of the City of New York) It moved in 1894 to a new five story building at Hudson and Jay Streets. (Source: The Medical Record, July 1894, a periodical made available as a PDF by Google Books from the collection of Harvard University.)
Hester Street at Essex
Do you see the woman on the right in the checkered shawl? That kind of pattern is a typical shawl from the Polessie region - Lyakhovichi to Pinsk, north towards Nesvizh (the Pripet Marsh area of today's Belarus) Click on the picture to get a better look at all of the details in this 1904 photograph.
This page covers only the period while the majority of New York Lechovichers were living in the Lower East Side. Can you share information on their move to other communities in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and elsewhere? Can you direct us to materials that would inform us on Lechovichers in those communities?