From bucolic farmland to urban outpost of artisanal restaurants and shops — Forsyth Street and Lower East Side have had an historically lively ethnic past and an enduringly scrappy American spirit.


Original
What is today the Bowery was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail, which connected the villages of early Manhattan island natives. In 1625, the road formed one border of the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam.


Revolutionary
Some of the area’s earliest settlers were freed black slaves who worked the land on small farms — “bouwerijs” in Dutch. The British peacefully took over and renamed the city in 1664. Eventually, the farmland and orchards were consolidated under the ownership of the powerful and wealthy James de Lancey.


After the American Revolution, the Loyalist de Lancey family’s holdings were confiscated, and their land — a large portion of what is now the Lower East Side — became public. President George Washington not only slept in the neighborhood — he lived here. The first executive mansion of the United States was on Cherry Street.


Aspirational
In 1817, Second Street was renamed after Lieutenant Benjamin Forsyth, a North Carolinian hero in the War of 1812. At that time, though the slums and gangs of Five Points weren’t far away, modest working-class housing lined Forsyth Street and the very upscale, nearby Bowery theater district rivaled Broadway.


In the middle of the 1800s, Forsyth Street was at the center of Kleindeutschland — “Little Germany” and hundreds of thousands of Irish arrived in the city, driven by The Great Famine. As the century progressed, subsequent waves of hard-working, freedom- and fortune-seeking immigrants —Eastern European, Italian, Greek, and Chinese — would make the Lower East Side their first American home, creating densely-populated, largely insular enclaves.


Provocative… and Progressive
By the 1860s, the Bowery had acquired its long-lived, gritty reputation. At the same time all over the Lower East Side, desperately overcrowded tenements and unregulated industries bred unhealthy living and working conditions. As reformers agitated for improved housing and labor laws, Forsyth Street became the site of both Karl Marx’s International Workingmen’s Association NY headquarters and a seminal 1886 horsecar driver strike riot.


Out of the tumult arose critical wide sweeping- and local advancements, including Sara Roosevelt Park. Opened in 1934 and still in use today, Sara Roosevelt Park was “America’s finest playground,” and provided fresh air and recreation to mothers and children while honoring the neighborhood’s ethnic diversity.


With Shopping and Entertainment
From the late 19th Century into the middle of the 20th Century, the Lower East Side’s diversity included Yiddish-speaking Jews. At one point, an estimated 400,000 contributed to the wild popularity of local Yiddish theater, which influenced the budding music careers of George and Ira Gershwin and Irving Berlin, who all grew up in the neighborhood. These Yiddish speakers bought their groceries and wares from pushcarts on Orchard Street — which retains its reputation as a shopping district.


Diverse… and Artsy
After World War II, the Lower East Side was one of the first neighborhoods in New York City to become integrated. In the 1960s and 1970s, cheap housing costs brought another wave of immigrants — from the Philippines, Korea, Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, and many other countries — as well as poets, writers, artists and musicians. At the end of the 20th Century, the neighborhood began the development and resurgence that continues today.


At Home with History… And With What’s Next
The vestiges of Lower East Side history can be seen on every block. 204 Forsyth Street welcomes residents who appreciate its past — and look to help create what will no doubt be a storied future.


From bucolic farmland to urban outpost of artisanal restaurants and shops — Forsyth Street and Lower East Side have had an historically lively ethnic past and an enduringly scrappy American spirit.


Original
What is today the Bowery was originally the Wickquasgeck Trail, which connected the villages of early Manhattan island natives. In 1625, the road formed one border of the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam.


Revolutionary
Some of the area’s earliest settlers were freed black slaves who worked the land on small farms — “bouwerijs” in Dutch. The British peacefully took over and renamed the city in 1664. Eventually, the farmland and orchards were consolidated under the ownership of the powerful and wealthy James de Lancey.


After the American Revolution, the Loyalist de Lancey family’s holdings were confiscated, and their land — a large portion of what is now the Lower East Side — became public. President George Washington not only slept in the neighborhood — he lived here. The first executive mansion of the United States was on Cherry Street.


Aspirational
In 1817, Second Street was renamed after Lieutenant Benjamin Forsyth, a North Carolinian hero in the War of 1812. At that time, though the slums and gangs of Five Points weren’t far away, modest working-class housing lined Forsyth Street and the very upscale, nearby Bowery theater district rivaled Broadway.


In the middle of the 1800s, Forsyth Street was at the center of Kleindeutschland — “Little Germany” and hundreds of thousands of Irish arrived in the city, driven by The Great Famine. As the century progressed, subsequent waves of hard-working, freedom- and fortune-seeking immigrants —Eastern European, Italian, Greek, and Chinese — would make the Lower East Side their first American home, creating densely-populated, largely insular enclaves.


Provocative… and Progressive
By the 1860s, the Bowery had acquired its long-lived, gritty reputation. At the same time all over the Lower East Side, desperately overcrowded tenements and unregulated industries bred unhealthy living and working conditions. As reformers agitated for improved housing and labor laws, Forsyth Street became the site of both Karl Marx’s International Workingmen’s Association NY headquarters and a seminal 1886 horsecar driver strike riot.


Out of the tumult arose critical wide sweeping- and local advancements, including Sara Roosevelt Park. Opened in 1934 and still in use today, Sara Roosevelt Park was “America’s finest playground,” and provided fresh air and recreation to mothers and children while honoring the neighborhood’s ethnic diversity.


With Shopping and Entertainment
From the late 19th Century into the middle of the 20th Century, the Lower East Side’s diversity included Yiddish-speaking Jews. At one point, an estimated 400,000 contributed to the wild popularity of local Yiddish theater, which influenced the budding music careers of George and Ira Gershwin and Irving Berlin, who all grew up in the neighborhood. These Yiddish speakers bought their groceries and wares from pushcarts on Orchard Street — which retains its reputation as a shopping district.


Diverse… and Artsy
After World War II, the Lower East Side was one of the first neighborhoods in New York City to become integrated. In the 1960s and 1970s, cheap housing costs brought another wave of immigrants — from the Philippines, Korea, Bangladesh, the United Kingdom, and many other countries — as well as poets, writers, artists and musicians. At the end of the 20th Century, the neighborhood began the development and resurgence that continues today.


At Home with History… And With What’s Next
The vestiges of Lower East Side history can be seen on every block. 204 Forsyth Street welcomes residents who appreciate its past — and look to help create what will no doubt be a storied future.