Fourth generation Lower East Side resident Eric Ferrara has always been interested in the history of his community. In 2003, he made his commitment to researching, documenting, and preserving the history of the neighborhood official by founding what is now the Lower East Side History Project. The project will be presented with a 2012 Village Award at GVSHP’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, June 7th.The Lower East Side History Project (LESHP) provides educational programming to Kindergarten through 12th Grade and university level students, public walking tours, media consultation, research services, and special events, lectures, and presentations. The project has several volunteer staff members and is overseen by a board of ten.
Research and walking tours concentrate on the several distinct neighborhoods that make up what is traditionally the Lower East Side: the East Village, Alphabet City, the Bowery, Chinatown, and Little Italy. One of the most popular tours is Eric’s Mafia tour. It explores the former social clubs, homes, and haunts of some of the most influential 20th century mobsters. Another popular tour is Reel Life, a tour that explores some of the more popular movies filmed in the neighborhood led by the LESHP’s Andrea Coyle. The tour also explores the history of entertainment in area, including the history of Italian and Yiddish theater.
The extensive research LESHP’s staff has conducted on the neighborhood is always made available for the public. In fact, Eric has published two books, including The Manhattan Mafia Guide and The Bowery: A History of Grit, Graft and Grandeur, and several more are in the works.
The Lower East Side History Project will be presented with a Village Award for researching, documenting, and preserving the distinctive history of the East Village and Lower East Side and engaging the public with the neighborhood’s history. We hope to see you at GVSHP’s 2012 Annual Meeting as we honor the LESHP and seven other awardees who are being honored for their contributions to the Village. Stay-tuned to Off the Grid for upcoming posts on our other 2012 Village awardees.