Six Heritage Tours of the Lower East Side: A Walking Guide

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Many of our nation's oldest ethnic communities trace their roots in this country to New York City's Lower East Side. A century ago, travelers to the area could attend a black-faced minstrel show performed by Irishmen, drink German lager, visit Jewish-run gambling houses, and dine on Chinese delicacies, all within a matter of blocks. Long a hub of immigrant cultures, this vibrant section of New York City remains one of the country's most astonishingly diverse neighborhoods. This unique walking guide takes us back to the world of these bustling immigrant enclaves. The historical tours, enlivened by colorful photographs and illustrations, chronicle the evolution of the communities--African, German, Irish, Chinese, Jewish, and Italian--for whom the Lower East Side served as an entryway into America. As participants stroll through one of the world's most heterogeneous and visually stimulating neighborhoods, the tours take them past such historic points as the African burial ground excavation site; Old St. Patrick's Cathedral, the first Catholic cathedral in New York State; the charming Caff Roma, which still serves authentic Italian coffee and desserts much as it did in the early 1900s; the oldest still- standing Jewish house of worship in the City; the site of the notorious Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911; and Mott Street, the main thoroughfare around which New York's Chinatown developed. Combining educational historical accounts with enchanting scenic tours, the heritage tours impart a keen sense of the legacies waiting to be discovered in the Lower East Side's remarkable past.