History didn’t make the Lower East Side; people did. Explore how this iconic neighborhood evolved, visiting sites that have been reshaped over the past century. Compare present-day structures with historic images. Learn about the creative transformations of the neighborhood, and consider how official urban planning intersects — or doesn’t — with grassroots community efforts. Hear how residents have fought to preserve their communities and improve their neighborhoods in the face of profound economic and political change.
Historical photos of the neighborhood offer a window to the past as you look at what stands on those locations in the present day. See what once was a synagogue for immigrant Jews in the 1890s transformed into a Protestant church for the Puerto Rican community, and discover how businesses on the Lower East Side adapted to the changing demographics of the neighborhood. Consider how communities and the built environment work together in a two-way relationship, creating constant change and adaptation.
We encourage visitors to reserve tickets in advance, as tickets regularly sell out. Space is limited to 15 visitors per time slot for Then and Now.