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.

Recent Stories

Chinatown Homeless Murder Suspect Still Awaiting Trial

More than two years since the horrific murder of four homeless men in Chinatown, the suspect has yet to be held accountable for the crimes. In the early morning hours of October 5, 2019 Randy Santos stalked, then allegedly bludgeoned to death Cheun Kwok, Anthony Manson, Florencio Moran and Nazario Vasqez-Villegas while asleep on the streets. In […]

Excavation Begins for 70-Story South Street Towers

Cranes, and plywood, and pile-drivers, oh my! Such is the story down on the Lower East Side waterfront. Department of Buildings on April 12 issued official approval to the Chetrit Group to begin foundation activities for its dual 70-story tower at 265 South. A month later, the big trucks are mobilized. While excavation is now […]

For 7th Year Running, Greek Jewish Festival Returns to Broome Street this Weekend

After a more subdued outing last year, the Greek Jewish Festival this spring is on the rebound, pulling out the stops. It returns on Sunday for another go-round. Founded by Kehila Kedosha Janina on Broome Street seven years ago, the event celebrates the culture and traditions of the Greek Jewish community. Years past saw crowds […]

Revisiting the Story of the Eastern Dispensary at 75 Essex Street

The historic Eastern Dispensary Building at 75 Essex Street – home of Eisner Bros. – will soon undergo major redevelopment to add a ten-story protrusion to its rooftop. Fresh off this news, which broke earlier this month, we thought it appropriate to revisit a Bowery Boogie entry from nine years ago detailing the history of […]

Motorcycle Driver Killed in FDR Drive Crash

A motorcyclist driving the FDR Tuesday morning lost control of the vehicle and died after hitting the roadway, police said. The driver, identified as Brooklyn 36-year-old resident Christian Reyes, had been traveling southbound on the FDR Drive at 7:10am in the vicinity of Exit 3, when he struck the left edge curbing and guide rail. […]