Travel Back in Time to 1886!

By Jackie Bein, Musuem at Eldridge Street Intern

In November 1886, the cornerstone of the Eldridge Street Synagogue was placed on the purchased lot of 12-14-16 Eldridge Street. This Sunday – November 13, 2016 – you can travel back in time as the Museum marks the 130th anniversary of this momentous event with the Generation to Generation Festival! You’ll be able to hear favorite Yiddish tunes performed by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, take a “vintage” photo in old-fashioned garb at our photo booth, prepare good old American apple pie, take a sample citizenship test, enjoy re-enactments of moments from this first chapter in the synagogue’s history, and much, much more.

To prepare for your time travel adventure, get caught up on the latest headlines from 1886. Responses to a massive new wave of immigrants. A new media technology. Many of these headlines bring up familiar political issues for the reader today. 

January: the University Settlement is founded. Located on the corner of Eldridge and Rivington Streets, just a few blocks up from where the synagogue will be built a few months later, the settlement house is the first of its kind in the United States. It offers baths, kindergarten, educational programs, and other services to the public, making it a haven for the large immigrant population in the neighborhood. Fast forward to 2016, and the University Settlement is still extremely active, organizing a variety of community programs and initiatives.

May:  thousands of workers go on strike in cities all over the United States, demanding an 8 hour workday and better working conditions. In Chicago a few days later, a riot in Haymarket Square ensues after police clash with the workers.


July:  the New York Tribune is printed using the first commercial linotype machine, marking a major turning point in newspaper production.

October: the Statue of Liberty is unveiled. A gift from France, the statue is dedicated amidst great celebration in New York Harbor and serves as a beacon to millions of immigrants pouring into America.

Two important American Jewish institutions are founded in 1886: the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Yeshivat Etz Chaim, which will later become Yeshiva University.

Grover Cleveland, a Democrat from New York, is President of the United States, serving his first of two nonconsecutive terms. He gets married in June and is the second president to have a wedding while in office. (John Tyler was the first, and Woodrow Wilson would follow).

What other 1886 American events do you know of?


Categories: History, Immigration, Jewish History, Lower East Side

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