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109 Washington St.

About this listing

Tenement in the heart of vanished "Little Syria"

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Financial District
Residential, Historic Site & Museum

Place Matters Profile

The tenement at 109 Washington Street is one of the last architectural remnants of what was once a thriving and diverse Lower Manhattan immigrant enclave. From the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, the area west of Broadway, and extending north from Battery Place roughly to Chambers Street, was home to New York City’s largest Middle Eastern community, as well as a large concentration of Central and Eastern European settlers. The construction of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and the World Trade Center successively displaced the ethnic populations and resulted in the demolition of much of the district’s historic fabric. 109 Washington Street has witnessed and survived these and other, unforeseen cycles of neighborhood destruction and rebirth. As of 2011, the building itself, which has served as a multi-family dwelling for over one hundred years, appears to have changed very little. But the gravity of the histories embodied by the modest...

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Nominations

Joseph V. Svehlak

It's the only tenement left on Washington Street, the heart of a once large, vibrant immigrant community known as "Little Syria." A smaller Slavic immigrant group also settled in the area. I first became aware of 109 Washington Street over 50 years ago when my mother walked me by to show me where she and her family had lived after they immigrated to New York from Moravia in 1912. The building is a touchstone for me and my family. It's where they established roots in the new world. My mother and my aunt learned to speak English at St. Peter's School on Barclay Street. I know many stories about their struggles and life downtown. Every time I go by 109 Washington Street, their world comes alive for me.


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