Lower East Side Walking Tour

Explore the history and evolution of Manhattan’s Lower East Side!

  • Explore synagogues of the Lower East Side that have been repurposed into art galleries, churches, and event spaces as well as bathhouses, restaurants, movie theaters, and more
  • Learn about the history of the Lower East Side, once the most densely populated district in the world
  • Uncover the history of Jewish Immigration in the area and hear what tenement life was like, find out where immigrants shopped, banked, and how they obtained news of the times
  • Stop by significant Lower East Side landmarks including the Eldridge Street Synagogue , the Jarmulowsky Bank, Forwards Building and old Old Loew’s movie theaters

About this Tour

Once the most densely populated districts in the world, the lower east side of Manhattan has witnessed numerous changes during the past hundred years. This walking tour is a resourceful glimpse of the past. The tour will focus on a few of the remaining vestiges and surviving buildings and structures of an era of Jewish immigration. Join long-time Lower East Side resident Richard Soden as he highlights buildings and structures that still exist today as well as those that have been restored, re-purposed, demolished, and abandoned. He will speak about what transformed the neighborhood. The tour will conclude with a discussion of several food establishments that still exist today, some of Richard’s fond childhood memories, and a brief look at the Lower East Side today.

About Your Guide

Richard M. Soden is a licensed New York City Tour Guide and a Docent at the Museum at Eldridge Street.

Richard M. Soden, O.D., F.A.A.O. is a Clinical Professor and currently the Director of Health Care Development At SUNY College of Optometry. Previously, he served as  Vice President for Clinical Affairs at SUNY Optometry for 10 years. Dr. Soden graduated from SUNY college of Optometry in 1979. After graduation, he completed a residency program at the Northport VA Medical Center on Long Island. In addition to primary care optometry, his special interests are in pediatrics, children with special needs and low vision rehabilitation for children and adults. He is recognized as a low vision specialist and has worked with the Commission for the Blind for his entire optometric career. After leaving the VA and private practice, Dr. Soden returned to SUNY College of Optometry as Vice President for Clinical Affairs.

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