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The New York Settlement House & The Transformation of America

Hosted By: The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy (LESJC)

New York’s densely occupied Lower East Side provided the energizing cauldron for the creation of Settlement Houses, whose goals were based on furthering the cause of social justice. What made them so unique was that despite being located in the struggling immigrant neighborhoods they served, progressive individuals consciously chose to live in them to be immersed in the lives of the population they aimed to help. These institutions, which eventually appeared across the US, provided both education and aspiration for the residents and ultimately the entire country. They were instrumental in creating the first public playground in the United States; Public Nurses in American schools; improved housing; and even the creation of such organizations as the NAACP. The diverse opportunities offered by these Settlement Houses ranged from cooking, athletics, language classes, and art and music programs to political engagement and cultural endeavors. The social activism of these Settlement Houses led to the creation of benefits that would become the hallmarks and legacies (and some would say rights) of today’s America.

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The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy (LESJC)

The Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy (LESJC) is an educational non-profit, created in 1998, to preserve and support the Lower East Side’s community of living synagogues and other historic structures, and to raise public awareness of the neighborhoods distinct cultural identity. As the birthplace of American Jewish civilization, and the most iconic immigrant neighborhood in America, we share this history by taking people on walking tours which enter sacred sites, where you learn how past generations came here, lived and worshiped. Learn more about LESJC here.
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