When ‘Forward’ Lit the Way on East Broadway

Posted on: December 2nd, 2020 at 5:09 am by

Photo: (r) Forward Archive, (l) NYPL

There was a time when the lights burned bright above East Broadway. And we’re not talking about the sign for 169 Bar.

Indeed, the iconic Jewish Daily Forward building at 175 East Broadway – designated a city landmark in 1983 – once boasted rooftop lighting that may have rivaled those of the Atlantic City boardwalk. Designed by architect George Boehm, and completed in 1912, the ten-story beaux arts beauty previously housed the offices and presses for the Yiddish daily newspaper.

The glowing advertisement was bilingual – English on one side and Yiddish on the other – and pumped some 60,000 watts of light into the Lower East Side skyline. The signs, likely installed sometime around 1927, could be seen from the East River bridges. The building itself was also a means of disseminating info, such as the 1914 congressional election results.

The Museum at Eldridge Street recently dug up the above images, which are simply spectacular. (The image at left originally published in The Forward in 1927, on the thirtieth anniversary of the publication.)

The Jewish Daily Forward maintained offices onsite until the building sold in 1974 to the Lau family. Operations then relocated to midtown. (The publication ceased the print edition in 2019 after 121 years but still maintains a presence online.) For many years, a Chinese church occupied part of the space. Condo conversion later took place in the late 1990s. Notable tenants have included Tatum O’Neal, Spike Jonze, and America Ferrera.

All that’s left of this history is the word “Forward” on each facade.

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