"This was more than a house of worship. This was the portal of a new life in a new land for the largest wave of immigrants ever."

Bill Moyers

Eldridge Street

Around the Neighborhood


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Garden Cafeteria Sign

Undated, probably mid-20th century
Enamel on sheet metal (neon tubing now lost)

The Garden Cafeteria, just a few blocks from the Eldridge Street Synagogue, was famous well beyond its Lower East Side neighborhood. Located at 165 East Broadway at the corner of Rutgers Street, the Garden Cafeteria not only fed locals but and was home to local Jewish intelligentsia, including Nobel-prize winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer who held court there. The offices of the Jewish Daily Forward were next door and journalists were also was an important part of the scene at the restaurant, oftentimes writing about its colorful patrons.

As shown in the photograph here, the restaurant’s large, three-part sign remained on the building after the Garden Cafeteria closed in 1983. The Museum purchased the sign in April 2005, as the site was being renovated by its new tenant.

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