6. Nobody Knows What the Original Stained Glass Window Looks Like

Museum at Eldridge Street-Previous Rose Window-Lower East Side-Chinatown-NYCPhotograph by Kate Milford from Museum at Eldridge Street 

There are no photographs or blueprints that show the original stained glass window above the ark of the Eldridge Street Synagogue. In the 1940s, the window had been replaced by a four-paneled window of glass blocks (shown above), as a means of repair. A competition for the design of the stained glass window was fairly open-ended. Artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans designed a stunning piece made of 1,200 individually shaped pieces of colored glass, etched with more than 650 stars, which was installed in 2010.

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Normally, when you see stained glass there is heavy, dark colored lead cames in which stained glass pieces are slotted. Here, silicon was used instead to fuse the pieces giving it its impressive luminosity and unique design.

The glass blocks in the window now form a wall in the downstairs sanctuary, with the materials saved in keeping with the preservation principles of the Museum at Eldridge Street.