9. A New Basement Was Dug By Hand in the Restoration

The modernization the Eldridge Street Synagogue during its restoration included installing 20th and 21st century amenities, like air conditioning and an elevator, and getting the building up to code. In order to house the heating, cooling and electrical systems, a new basement had to be dug. This was done by hand to keep the building stable. Piers were replaced mostly with steel supports, going up to 18 feet below ground.

10. Remnants of Abandonment Still Remain in the Sanctuary

Eldridge Street Synagogue-Museum at Eldridge Street-Tour-Lower East Side-Chinatown-NYC_20

The main tenet of the restoration plans of the Eldridge Street Synagogue was to make sure the space still felt used and that history could be revealed in the architecture. As the Museum at Eldridge Street writes, “We did not want the synagogue to look like a newborn baby but rather a well-maintained and absolutely loved 120-plus-year-old building.”

Part of that history is certainly its decades of abandonment, and if you look along the left balcony of the upstairs sanctuary you will see a wall deliberately left bare. This was the state many portions of the walls were in and the museum has left a panel this way to showcase how the building was constructed, with brick, lath, plaster and paint. You can also see pieces of horsehair, that were used to bind the plaster during the restoration.