Sunday, May 12, 2013


Because of weekend trackwork on the red lines, I accidentally got on a 1 after church and wound up at Rector Street. Thoroughly disoriented I took the first exit I could find, a good thing, as it deposited me right in front of an exhibition I'd forgotten I wanted to check out, Little Syria, NY: An Immigrant Community's Life and Legacy. The area around Washington Street used to be full of Ottoman immigrants from what are now Lebanon and Syria; it was referred to as "the mother colony of all the Arab settlements in the United States." The building of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel led to the destruction of most of the tenements; by the time World Trade Center was built on top of the north end, everyone had left. It's a fun little show with photos, music, a film, and some great maps. Here are two: a peddlar's map of the US from 1921, and an undated map of the ethnic neighborhoods of Manhattan, which also shows a second Little Syria just across the East River in Brooklyn.

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