7. Nobody knows what the original stained glass window looked like

Eldridge Street Synagogue-Museum at Eldridge Street-Tour-Lower East Side-Chinatown-NYC_16

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 was replaced by a four-paneled window of glass blocks as a means of repair. Artist Kiki Smith and architect Deborah Gans were commissioned by the Museum in 2010 to design a new window. The stunning piece they made consists of 1,200 individually shaped pieces of colored glass, etched with more than 650 stars.

Normally, when you see stained glass there are heavy, dark-colored lead frames in which stained glass pieces are slotted. Here, silicon was used instead to fuse the pieces together, giving it an 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.