Vol. 14 No. 4  October 2023 Bulletin

News from LESPI

LESPI Proposes Gouverneur Hospital as NYC Landmark

Pavilions facing the East River. Photo: Ephemeral New York.

Gouverneur Hospital Entrance Facade. Photo: Daytonian in New York.

LESPI has submitted a request to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to designate the former Gouverneur Hospital at 621 Water Street as a city landmark. This architectural gem of brick, brownstone and terra cotta was opened in stages from 1901 to 1909 to serve the dire medical needs of an enormously crowded tenement neighborhood. Its striking architectural presence aligns it with the City Beautiful movement, where civic structures were designed with grandeur and great attention to detail, and with the aim of uplifting the communities around them.

The building has some wonderful architectural features, including a highly ornamented entrance façade and curved pavilion wings with balconies that face the East River.  Patients were brought out onto to these balconies for access to light and air as part of their treatment.

The structure now serves the community as a special needs housing facility. LESPI continues to urge the LPC to prioritize the Lower East Side by protecting its most historically significant buildings - including Gouverneur Hospital - through landmarking.

For more on this fascinating building and its history, see HERE.

Entrance detail. Photo: D. Wye. 

Pavilion view c. 1914. Photo: NYC Gov/Records, 


5G Towers To Bloom Like Mushrooms

5G Tower in Manhattan's Chinatown. Photo: Richard Moses

Soon you’ll see them almost everywhere: slender utility towers some 32 feet tall that transmit free 5G wireless signals to New York’s underserved communities. Some 2,000 are to be installed across the five boroughs. Constructed of shiny metal and looking like they dropped in from outer space, the towers are typically not a great match for the natural brick and stone aesthetics of New York City’s historic districts.

LESPI has been assisting the Historic Districts Council - which has been charged with assessing city-wide the placement of the new towers in terms of its effect on historic resources - by reviewing the tower placements in the Lower East Side below Houston Street. So far we’ve found that most of the proposed LES towers have no negative effect, but we’ve recommended that a few be moved to locations that don’t impact the adjacent historic buildings. We’ll continue monitoring the situation. 


Carmen Gardens Mural Restoration Planned


Ca. 1984 view of La Lucha Continua mural. Photo by John Weber.

The mural today. Photo: Richard Moses.

Tucked away off Avenue C, the Carmen’s Garden mural “La Lucha Continua” is one of the most important public art pieces in the East Village. In 1984 artist John Pitman Weber created the work, at a time when the neighborhood was starting to recover from 1970s disinvestment and what had been a surplus of abandoned, burned-out buildings and strewn trash. Today it reigns over a lovely community garden and celebrates local Latino culture. We believe it’s the last of its age and type in Loisaida / the Lower East Side.

The composition and scale of “Carmen’s Mural” are impressive: a collage consisting of a bas relief, figures, and text, extending over the entire sidewall of the neighboring building. Although composed primarily of stucco, which is not highly durable, the mural has held up fairly well over the last 40 years. Nevertheless it shows signs of some significant wear and tear.

The garden is now planning a mural restoration, organized by Art Loisaida Director and LESPI Vice President Carolyn Ratcliffe, a longtime member of the garden community, with assistance by Loisaida Inc. LESPI is proud to be helping to both retain an arts conservator and propose the artwork for city landmarking.


Author’s Book Talk on Christodora House at University Settlement

Skyscraper Settlement by Joyce Milambiling.

Christodora House, ca. 1930. Photo: MCNY.

Join us on Wednesday November 1 for a wonderful author's book talk and signing for the newly released "Skyscraper Settlement: The Many Lives of Christodora House." For more info and to register for this live event at the historic University Settlement building see HERE. We hope to see you!


LESPI “Lens on the Lower East Side” Photo Exhibit a Hit

"Lens on the Lower East Side" exhibit. Photo: Richard Moses.

Illiana Ortega speaking at the exhibit's photographers' talk. Photo: Richard Moses.

We had a great turnout for LESPI's “Lens on the Lower East Side” photography exhibit and photographers' talk at The Loisaida Center in September.

Curated by LESPI Vice President Carolyn Ratcliffe, the show was based on two of LESPI's "Lens on the Lower East Side" photo journal books, and consisted of the work of local professional photographers Don Freeman, Alan Gastelum, George Hirose, Onno de Jong, Ryan John Lee, Marlis Momber, Iliana Ortega, Janko Puls, Brian Rose, Federico Savini, and Ciaran Tully—all highlighting the vibrancy and diversity of the East Village / Lower East Side neighborhoods.

We thank The Loisaida Center team for their great help, and Veselka and Veniero’s for their very generous and delicious donations. Fantastic!


The map's red boundary demarcates the traditional Lower East Side. The yellow fields show existing NYC historic districts. Clearly there are very few historic districts in the LES, especially considering the area's historic, cultural and architectural importance. We need the LPC to designate more districts and do it quickly, before more demolitions take place! Map by Merica May Jensen.


Sign LESPI's Petition for a LES Historic District!

Join the approx. 3,000 people who have signed LESPI's petition for a new Lower East Side historic district below Delancey Street, in the blocks around the Tenement Museum. This is one of the city's and country's most important historic communities, due to its unique immigration, artistic, cultural and architectural history, and the formidable role it has played in our city's and nation's development.  The only way to protect the historic Lower East Side from complete demolition and redevelopment is city landmarking.  Sign the petition HERE!


Support LESPI and look good doing it with a LESPI t-shirt!  All proceeds benefit LESPI's work. Only $25 (including shipping and handling). 

You can order online HERE. Or send a check made out to "LESPI/FCNY", and send to LESPI, 93 Third Avenue, #1223, New York, NY 10003.  Available in crew neck only; indicate which shirt and size. For questions: contact us at info@LESPI-nyc.org or 347-827-1846. Unfortunately we cannot offer returns or exchanges.

You're contribution will help us protect our historic LES buildings and streetscapes!

LESPI Books Make for Great Reading and Gifts!

LESPI's "LES: Lens on the Lower East Side."

LESPI's "East Village: Lens on the Lower East Side."

LESPI's "Chinatown: Lens on the Lower East Side."

LESPI's wonderful photo journal books "LES: Lens on the Lower East Side," "East Village: Lens on the Lower East Side" and "Chinatown: Lens on the Lower East Side" are now available at most Lower East Side branch libraries, and for sale at International Center of Photography. The East Village and Chinatown books are available at McNally Jackson on Prince Street, Printed Matter/St Marks on St. Marks Place, and  Village Works on East 3rd Street. The East Village book is available at The Source on East 9th Street; the Chinatown book is available at Museum of Chinese in America on Centre Street, and Pearl River Mart at Chelsea Market and Broadway in Tribeca. Please contact the store to check availability.


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Lower East Side Preservation Initiative
93 Fourth Avenue #1223 | New York, New York 10003
347-827-1846 | info@LESPI-nyc.org


 © 2023 Lower East Side Preservation Initiative

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