If you’ve ever had a picnic in Battery Park or taken a trip to the Statue of Liberty you’ve probably walked through Castle Clinton, a medieval-looking fortress dating back to 1808 that sits by the water’s edge. This structure, now used as a ticket office and information center for tourists heading to Liberty Island, has been through almost as many changes as New York City itself and was nearly demolished on six different occasions, only to be rescued and restored by the National Park Service in 1946. A remnant of the City’s colonial roots, the building has been involved in military, artistic, and immigration-oriented initiatives since it’s construction, serving an impressively diverse variety of roles during its 207 years of existence. Like the Museum at Eldridge Street, the now restored building pays homage to the stories of the people who passed through its doors during each stage of its evolution, reflecting the ever-changing nature of the city and the people who inhabit it.
There are many things that make the Museum at Eldridge Street unique: the building’s remarkable history and distinctive location, breathtaking interior, and extraordinary restoration story. However, it is not the only impressive example of architectural restoration in Lower Manhattan. Another example, Trinity Church, has been part of New York’s history for more than 300 years; the congregation’s first building was erected 190 years before the Eldridge Street Synagogue opened its doors in 1887. Today, Trinity Church is undergoing a restoration project that is similar to the Eldridge project in some ways, but is also as different as the histories of the two institutions. By examining these two restoration projects, we can see how the values of both organizations are reflected in how the buildings are preserved and reinvigorated over time.
There’s a question I frequently get when leading a tour of the historic sanctuary, and it focuses on a curious element of the historic ark on the Eastern wall. “What are those light bulbs doing there?” many people ask as they look up at a … Read more
Amy Stein-Milford is the former Deputy Director of the Museum at Eldridge Street. During her 18-year tenure, she oversaw the building’s re-opening following its restoration, the commission of a new stained glass window, and the creation of a new visitor center and permanent exhibition. In … Read more
The longtime home of the Jewish Daily Forward sits on East Broadway between Rutgers and Jefferson Streets. Since its construction in 1912, the Forward Newspaper building has been a staple of the Lower East Side. Today, it is a testament to the neighborhood’s changing landscape. … Read more