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May Lecture – The Syrian Colony of New York in the 19th Century and the “Lost” Lower West Side
May 11, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Immigrants from what was then called “Greater Syria” came to New York beginning in 1880. They settled on the Lower West Side of Manhattan, just steps away from the Battery. In 1890, the community numbered about 2,000 people—the largest Syrian community in the United States. It was also the economic, spiritual and intellectual center of the Syrian diaspora. Along Washington Street were men and women speaking Arabic, Syrian grocery stores and restaurants, four Christian chapels, wholesale and retail merchants and small manufacturing concerns. Six Arabic newspapers and a number of books were published in the colony in the 19th century. But until recently, the Washington Street colony was completely unknown.
Linda K. Jacobs, PhD, will explore the confluence of events, including World War I, immigration restrictions that cut the number of Syrian immigrants to almost zero in the 1920s, and the physical destruction of the neighborhood that all contributed to this gap in New York’s collective memory. This gap is finally now being filled with Dr. Jacobs’ book, Strangers in the West.
The Victorian Society New York sponsors a series of free lectures at The English Speaking Union, 144 E. 39th St., between Lexington and Third Avenues in Manhattan. No reservations are required. Attendees are invited to post-lecture receptions.