Little Syria, NYC Walking Tour (November 9)
Date(s) - 11/09/2019
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
in front of 17 Battery Place, The Whitehall Building
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK
On this walking tour, we will rediscover the “lost” downtown neighborhood of “Little Syria,” sometimes also known as “Syrian Quarter” or the “Syrian Colony.”
Beginning near the immigration station of Castle Clinton in Battery Park, we will learn the forgotten story of this western side of Lower Manhattan, which developed from the most fashionable district for the city’s elite after the Revolutionary War, to a residential district for immigrants from Ireland, Germany, and then the “Greater Syria” of present-day Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria, to becoming finally a center of massive real estate development after September 11, 2001. Walking along the once famous “Washington Street” and discussing the handful of remaining buildings (including an exquisite Syrian church), we will discuss immigration, religion (Christianity and Islam), food, literature, the politics of World War I, and business. We will also discuss efforts by advocates and scholars to protect the remaining buildings and install a permanent memorial to the neighborhood’s writers, who include Kahlil Gibran, author of The Prophet.
Todd Fine is the president of the Washington Street Advocacy Group, an organization that advocates for the physical preservation of the “Little Syria” neighborhood of Downtown Manhattan and the memory of its literary figures. In 2011, he directed Project Khalid, a campaign to celebrate the centennial year of the publication of Ameen Rihani’s The Book of Khalid (1911), the first Arab-American novel in English. The campaign included events at the U.S. Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. He also edited a critical edition of The Book of Khalid that was published by Syracuse University Press in 2016. Currently, he is a PhD candidate in history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He holds a BA in government from Harvard University (2004) and an MA in international relations from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University (2007).