Skip to content

Letters from Organizations and Individuals

I am writing to express my full support for the landmark designation of the Bialystoker Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation located on East Broadway on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The Bialystoker home opened in 1929 and was operated as a nursing home and community gathering place for Jewish immigrants from Poland. Bialystoker is an important part of the history and experience of Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side. Over the past decade, development in this neighborhood has accelerated and it is important to preserve and protect our historic buildings where we are able to do so. I urge the Commission to move swiftly to calendar the landmark designation of Bialystoker, an art deco style building that has both architectural, as well as historical, significance to the Lower East Side community. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

Council Member Margaret Chin

The building is a unique combination of deco design and Jewish symbolism that signified the aspirations of immigrants seeking to become Americans.

Morris Vogel, President, and Annie Polland, Vice President, Education, Lower East Side Tenement Museum

Designation of the Bialystoker Center as a Landmark – whose very design bridges the gap between the world of the immigrants with the world of their native-born children – can survive not only as a potent symbol of the Jewish experience on the Lower East Side, but also as a fine example of American Art Deco adapted to the needs of an immigrant community.

Kathy Hausman, President, Art Deco Society of New York

The Bialystoker Center’s architecture is a solid reminder of the storied Jewish community and way of life here on the Lower East Side.

Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director, Historic Districts Council

We believe this building merits designation for both its rich history and its distinguished architecture.

Peg Breen, President, the New York Landmarks Conservancy

We see Landmark status for this distinctive, Harry Hurwit-designed building as an honor that rightfully recognizes it importance to neighborhood history and New York architecture history.

Victor J. Papa, President/Director, Two Bridges Neighborhood Council

This Art Deco-style building dating from 1931 maintains a prominent visual presence on the streetscape and clearly meets the criteria for landmarking on architectural and cultural grounds.

Carolyn Ratcliff, Vice President, Lower East Side Preservation Initiative

The Bialystoker Home’s art deco architecture, overlaid with Jewish iconographic ornamentation, suggests the degree to which Jews in early twentieth century New York City successfully mediate their past, present and future by synergizing traditional Jewish tropes and modern American stylistic sensibilities. In this building they created art that represented their unique circumstances.

Molly Garfinkel, Director, Place Matters

We who live in this wonderful Lower East Side community treasure our three tall landmarks: JarmulowskyBank, the Forward building, and (we fervently hope) the Bialystoker Home.

Linda Jones, Seward Park Preservation and History Club, Steering Committee

Demolition of the center would be a grievous loss for the Lower East Side – obliteration of a structure that represents a long tradition of caring and displays a modern esthetic expressive of ancient religious beliefs.

Justin Ferate, Tours of the City

There is no other building like it on the Lower East Side and it contributes to the special sense of place found on this block of East Broadway.

David Mulkins, Chair, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors

It would be a shame for the Bialystoker building to succumb to the same fate as 35 Cooper Square, 185 Bowery and the litany of casualties the Lower East Side has lost in recent years. Scholars of the future will look back one day and ask, ‘What happened?’ Our generation will forever be associated with the flagrant destruction of so many remaining tangible links to New York City (and American) history.

Eric Ferrara, Executive Director, Lower East Side History Project

Unfortunately, we have seen the destruction or inappropriate renovations of many historic structures in the Lower East Side community over the past few decades. Much of the character of the community has been lost. We understand that use cannot be protected and that designating a landmark does not prevent the inevitable consequences of gentrification. However, when unique buildings present themselves for protection action must be considered.

Michael Zisser, Ph.D, Chief Executive Officer, University Settlement Society of New York.

Help preserve the architectural and cultural character of the Lower East Side.

Kurt Cavanaugh, Managing Director East Village Community Coalition

Kehila Kedosha Janina is a NYC Landmark, designated so by Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2004, when we went on to win the Lucy B. Moses award in Architectural Preservation in 2004. We are so lucky to have achieved the help of NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and will be forever grateful. We now stand as a beacon of light is a neighborhood where profit is fast becoming more important than preservation and buildings (such as the Bialystoker Home for the Aged) are becoming rare exceptions in the eradication of our historically significant community.

Marcia Haddad Iconomopolous, Museum Director, Kehila Kedosha Janina

Testimony at CB 3 hearing, April 24, 2012

Some maintain that if the building is preserved, that would kill the potential of any sale and that the building would languish, empty; becoming a blight. To this I would answer that we need look no further than down the block to the Forward Building (where my father first worked in his long career as a printer) to see that landmarking not only does not kill deals, but it provides many wonderful marketing opportunities. The Forward sold, was nicely developed, and is a nice piece of history promoting the neighborhood. One could not ask for a better case-in-point.

Eric Mandelbaum

The Bialystoker Home has graced the Lower East Side for over 80 years and qualifies to be an individual NYC Landmark on all accounts. Its expressions of the Art Deco style and its unique medallions on its entrance qualify it as a landmark on architectural merit alone. Moreover, its important ties to the waves of Jewish immigration from Bialystok, Poland and the social and religious services they established for the residents of the Lower East Side imbue this building with important historical associations as well.

Brett Leitner

In asking to preserve the building, and the roots it represents, I’m not just speaking on behalf of myself – I’m also speaking on behalf of our children, who cannot fend for their future or past, and – as the many signatures we collected show – on behalf of the community as a whole. Many conversations, started as I volunteered to post and collect those signature pages, were highly emotional, with people telling me stories of family, stories of care for the elderly, and stories of a bygone community in Bialystok. Saving some artifacts will not suffice to truly preserve these stories and heritage. Saving the building will.

Tal Lev

Article in The Jewish Press, March 16, 2012:

While initially easy to miss, especially since it is now partially covered with scaffolding, the façade leads to significance in two different directions . First it testifies to an enormously important aspect of Jewish immigrant history and secondly reflects the complex relationship between tradition and modernity, still playing itself out in the 21st century.

Richard McBee, painter and writer on Jewish Art.