by Kevin Walsh

Rivington is a street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, in general running from the Bowery east to Pitt Street. In 2010 it exists in three separate pieces, a one-block stretch between Bowery and Chrystie, a main section from Forsyth east to Pitt, and a small piece remaining at Columbia. It was originally laid out as one continuous street from the Bowery to the East River, but over the decades, the construction of Sara Roosevelt Park, Samuel Gompers Houses and Baruch Houses have served to truncate it somewhat. In the colonial era, James Rivington(1724-1802) published a loyalist Tory journal from 1773-1775, the New York Gazetteer; nonetheless, he was an associate of James de Lancey, Jr., and a number of streets in the Lower East Side honor his allies in this neighborhood.

That the Lower East Side is a former enclave for Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe is well-known. The western end of Rivington was, apparently, home to many Romanian Jewish immigrants, as this building at 58-60 between Eldridge and Allen, was formerly the Adath Jashurun synagogue built by immigrants from Iasi, Romania, designed in 1903 by famed architect Emery Roth, later famed for grand residential buildings. Since 1973 it has been a residential building itself, though thankfully the exterior is relatively unaltered.

What does it say on the tablets?

ForgottenFan Matthew Kirshner: If you were wondering what it says on the two tablets above the doorway at 58-60 Rivington (the former Adath Jeshurun synagogue), those are the ten commandments, from right to left.


Evidence of Rivington’s Romanian past can also be found at 95 Rivington, between Orchard and Ludlow. This 1840 townhouse has been much altered over the years but its former life as the Talmud Torah synagogue is obvious over the front entrance.

Economy Candy at 108, just west of Essex, has been there since 1937 and has been owned and operated by the Cohen family since the beginning. The smallish, cramped store is a wonderworld for candy aficionadoes, with all the well known brands and others from around the globe you have never heard of. Your webmaster is in here a couple of times a year to stock up on candy fruit slices and chocolate covered pretzels. (The sweet-sour mix on the former and the sweet-salt mix on the latter is at the optimum level for my preference in each case.) It’s only my superhuman resistance level that keeps me from going in more often.

A now-rare colorful painted wall-dog ad for Schapiro’s Kosher Winery. The vintner was founded in 1899 and originally specialized in thick, fruit juice-like product but has broadened its approach over the decades. The wines can be purchased at the Essex Street Market, between Rivington and Delancey, though this warehouse no longer houses the vintner, now based in Monticello, NY.

Botanica San Lazaro, #127 and Rivington Guitars, #125. Botanica are purveyors of religious paraphernalia and hexerei such as candles, statuary, amulets, and herbs thought to aid healing (thus the plant reference incipit in the name; some are Christian, some santeria, some mixtures of the religions of the Caribbean. This store carries the name of Lazarus, the youth Christ raised from the dead in the Gospels, an act presaging His own Resurrection. I shot this in early 2009, and Rivington Guitars has since moved its operations to the East Village, though it has retained the name.

The massive medieval-styled castle at the SE corner of Rivington and Suffolk is the former Public School 160, now the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center:

The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center Inc. is a Puerto Rican/Latino cultural institution that has demonstrated a broad-minded cultural vision and a collaborative philosophy. While CSV’s mission is focused on the cultivation, presentation, and preservation of Puerto Rican and Latino culture, it is equally determined to operate in a multi-cultural and inclusive manner, housing and promoting artists and performance events that fully reflect the cultural diversity of the Lower East Side and the city as a whole.

When I passed by it was undergoing a concerted stab at blasting the graffiti off the exterior, though that appears to be a daunting effort.

ABC No Rio: a large artist’s collective on Rivington Street, well known for decades for political activism and its drive to be a community social center, combining art, music, poetry and intense activism on many political and economic issues affecting local residents. They have been one of the major centers for the performance of spoken word/poetry slams and host a regular weekend matinee show of indie punk thrash metal music, amongst many other activities…The front of the building, whose ownership has been in dispute all along, is decorated with salvaged metal parts and murals depicting moments of nihilistic despair, somewhat ironic because the general aims of the organization are very optimistic – art studio access for everyone, fair and affordable housing and educational outreach to the unfortunate. [NY Daily Photo]

Underwear, #155. Perfect name if they wanted to make it a nightclub, no? Instead a wine bar called Belly occupies the ground floor.

Tailor Shop, nice hand lettered awning sign, at #176 between Clinton and Attorney. A couple of doors down is DM, which of course, stands for Dangerous Mathematicians, quite naturally, a ladies’ clothing shop.

Rivington’s greatest hand lettered sign, #206 east of Ridge, La Borinqueña (Puerto Rican) Meat Market.

Finally, here’s #202 at the corner of Rivington and Ridge, the girlhood home of Genya Ravan, who has been rocking for over 40 years. Here she is with one of her first hits with Goldie and the Gingerbreads in 1964:

From a few years later: Genya Ravan, Back in My Arms Again

SOURCE: Jim Naureckas’ New York Songlines

Jim Naureckas says: Rivington, though publishing a loyalist newspaper, was secretly spying for Washington at the same time–and it’s my understanding that this explains why the street bears his name.

Photographed February 2009; page completed December 15, 2010


Larry March 23, 2012 - 9:26 pm

How did you miss the Streit’s matzo factory?

Joseph Ciolino April 27, 2012 - 8:58 am

I attended PS 160 for one year — fall 1965 – 66. What did I learn? I learned what Hell is.

Warren J Eng July 19, 2012 - 11:28 am

I recall going to elementary school at PS 160 way back in the early 1960’s. I was enrolled in what was then called the IGC program for my fifth and sixth grades; this was the only location near where I lived that offered those classes. A great place for a snack was the Streit’s (sp?) matzoh bakery across the street.

Alex Lewinsky August 4, 2012 - 8:07 pm

#155 – Underwear:
In the Ellis Island records appear that Lea and her daughter (14) Schenia Berlin arrived, to live with the husband / father Sam Berlin at 155 Rivington Street. Sam Berlin and his two brothers had a factory and sold fancy underwear (like corsets) . The sign underwear still appear at the front of the building. We are still trying to locate their descendants, but there is reason to believe that was their store.

Lori Murphy August 12, 2018 - 11:52 am

Do you know what year they arrived at Ellis Island?

Jerome Coopersmith May 29, 2013 - 12:13 pm

In the 1930s my father, Meyer Kupfersmith, had a law office at 42 Rivington Street. I still have one
of his business cards. He shared it with Mrs. Porges who was a major Tammany politician, and a man named Mischu who was a notary public. The Democratic Party was actively in the business of helping people, primarily poor immigrants, who needed assistance in coping with the law, such as pushcart peddlers who were ticketed for not having licenses, or threatened with tickets unless they paid off cops. I went back there recently, and found a trendy wine bar at #42. My father would
think he was on another planet.
(Signed) Jerry

Howard Kim November 24, 2017 - 9:01 am

Mr. Coopersmith: Rare to find your entry regarding your father’s law office at 42 Rivington. I spent the first nine years of my life in a roach-infested tenement at 46 Rivington from 1949 – 1959 and I attended the University Settlement for part of that time. It was all a far different place from what it is now–Howard Kim.

#GreatManhattanLoop meets CitiBike and Egg Rolls « :: travellingcari.com :: June 10, 2013 - 4:48 pm

[…] Adath Jeshurun of Jassy aka the Emory Roth synagogue at 58 Rivington Street. It’s apparently now a private house, but whatever it is, it’s in a sad state. It really highlights the value of restoring […]

Susan W December 2, 2013 - 12:59 am

Does anyone know about the Balkan Record Store, which was at 42 Rivington Street?

steve john February 1, 2016 - 1:48 pm

I’m doing research on the Balkan Record Store and owner Aydin Asllan but have not come up with much. Anybody out there know anything?

Rebekah Alessi July 9, 2017 - 7:29 pm

I don’t know anything, but I know my husband would be super interested in your topic, it holds everything he loves, arcanity, hebraic arcanity, Balkan music, hipsterness. We once researched a Jewish retirement village in Az, begun in the 50’s, circle City. Please contact him, gjalessi@yahoo.com or me, naphiah@yahoo.com . Oh, also ny arcanity we love. Thanks!

Chris January 2, 2014 - 5:24 pm

My family lived at 240 Rivington St. During the 1870s and 1880s before moving to Hells Kitchen. They where German immigrants.

Chris January 2, 2014 - 5:27 pm

Does anybody have information or pictures of 240 Rivington St. It does not exist anymore.

tony February 2, 2014 - 3:37 pm

Does anybody know if the building where the late great George Burns lived is still there?

Anonymous March 22, 2017 - 3:59 pm

Yeah, the one next to Jackie Gleason’s pad 😉

Anonymous April 5, 2014 - 7:00 pm

The synagogue that you say is a romanian talmud torah, is next to a large empty lot. In that lot was a huge synagogue, called the first rumanian american congregation.

Rebekah Alessi July 9, 2017 - 7:30 pm


Ms.NMR April 27, 2014 - 10:29 am

My father brought the store and had LaBorinquena hand painted on the storefront meat market , after Family business my uncle DEMAS OTERO BECAME THE OWNER and business was BOOMING !!! “DEMAS” BECAME THE BEST “PUERTORIQUENO” BUCHER IN THE LOWEREASTSIDE , MY UNCLE DEMAS WAS A VERY GENEROUS MAN to the PUBLIC , and a hard worker for his family .My UNCLE DEMAS past away inside the meat market just after closing of a heart attack….BUSINESS WAS NEVER THE SAME AGAIN…….. WHEN I GO INTO THE CITY, I GO BACK TO REVINGTON STREET TO REMANIS THE EARLY YEARS WHEN DEMAS WAS THERE SMILING AND GREETING ALL WHO PAST AND PURCHASE HIS PRODUCTS.

lupita echevarria August 22, 2015 - 11:58 am

I also grew up on 176 Rivington st till I was 15 yrs old back in the early 1980! Did ur uncle have a goddaughter name gaby? Her dad’s name was kevin ?

Anonymous December 4, 2018 - 11:11 pm

It’s December 2018,
206 Rivington street N.Y. N.Y.
SO SAD … This time of the year family’s shopping for CHRISTMAS gathering NO longer exists my parents are in their 90s and remember the younger days filled with excitement .

HAYDEE June 18, 2014 - 8:05 pm


Logos March 13, 2015 - 5:21 am

Does anyone know about the Balkan Record Store, which was at 42 Rivington Street?

Rebekah Alessi July 9, 2017 - 7:31 pm

Did you read the guy above you is asking about it?

amy September 1, 2015 - 12:43 pm

i just had the most odd dream about Rivington Street so i woke up to google it. i used to live on Stanton between Chrystie and the Bowery in the late eighties. there was a hole in the apartment floor through which we could see our neighbors below. across the street was an abandoned building where addicts would cook their drugs over open fires they’d somehow set alight on the floors. i didn’t last long there. sometimes i don’t know how i ever made it out of nyc alive

Pedro Perez December 27, 2018 - 6:28 am

You should have seen it in mid 70s a lot worst!!

Toni May 28, 2017 - 8:03 pm

I attended IGC in 5th and 6th grade at PS 160. I think my 6th grade teacher was Ms Nemiroff(sp)in 1966-67. There was a deli across the street. We did not have a gym in that building but we would go to Seward HS for swimming. Anyone out there in my class?

Warren J January 1, 2020 - 6:09 pm


Howard, my brother, had Mrs. Nemiroff as a SIXTH grade IGC teacher; when I was PS160, she was still Mrs. Parsons. I was in IGC-5 with Mr. Dubrowski as a teacher before moving up to IGC-6. You may have crossed paths with my brother, Howard.

Angela Cannata July 29, 2017 - 10:39 am

I went to PS 160 in the early 50’s.if anyone went there then, please contact me. Love to talk to you. I’m 74 years old, so anyone around that age went there at the same time I did. Maybe we knew each other?

.Paul Rovitti August 9, 2018 - 7:14 pm

Angela! This is Paul Rovitti. I lived at 136 Rivington Street on the second floor with your grandparents, the Sicilianos! If you get this message please email me at provitti@cox.net I would love to hear from you!

jbergman August 25, 2017 - 11:02 pm

My grandparents (Haber) lived at 245 Rivington St. and operated a candy store there. Have no photos.

Laura Haber Yellin October 15, 2018 - 3:52 pm

My grandfather was also a Haber who lived on Rivington Street and had a candy store. Who was your grandfather? Mine was Ralph.

Howard Kim November 24, 2017 - 9:05 am

Does anybody know anything about the great 40s actor John Garfield? He grew up in the Rivington Street area but I don’t know the address of his childhood home.

Linda February 18, 2018 - 6:06 pm

My dentist use to be on Rivington, between Bowery and Chrystie, during the mid-1950s/early 60s. I remember that at the end of my visits, he would always offer me a small take-home toy (like what you get from a gum machine) that he kept in a box. If anyone remembers his name I would love to know.
And does anyone know the name of a tailor shop that use to be on Forsyth Street? I remember they had a large display window. My father would occasionally get his suits done there.
I no longer live in NY but am in the process of writing down some of my memories.

Linda February 19, 2018 - 3:51 pm

Yesterday I asked a couple of questions, one of which I inquired about a dentist. Well, although my post seems to have been deleted I happen to recall the name I was looking for. So just in case someone else wants to know: Dentist David O. Habib was at 56 Rivington St.
For years he looked after my families dental needs.

Leslie Boyer March 10, 2018 - 6:13 pm

My grandparents lived at 222 Rivington Street. My mother and here sister were born there in 1912 and 1914. Now it’s a parking/walk-through area. Any photos of the building would be much appreciated.

Craig April 12, 2018 - 2:31 pm


156 Rivington (ABC No Rio in the photo) had a photo studio back in the 1920’s (and perhaps beyond). I know this because my grandparent’s wedding photo was taken there (it’s noted in the lower left of the photo). Wish I had a photo of the building from around that time. The building that was there until recently was the building they took the photo in because I was able to see in Google Street view from a few years ago that the building was built in 1916.

Very cool!

Selina Krings June 18, 2018 - 12:57 pm

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Alfred Bonetti July 10, 2018 - 12:12 pm

This actually answered my problem, thank you!

gmt February 9, 2019 - 11:23 am

Here in Belgium I was buying a beautiful photo of 3 children maded by ‘J. Kornweiss studio’ 155 Rivington street (1890-1910?) NY Who know something about this A. Kornweiss? Kindly regards

Steven Kornweiss May 2, 2020 - 11:14 pm

He was my great grandfather – can you send me an image of the photo?

Marcia VB Macias February 24, 2019 - 9:47 am

My great great grandparents were Isaac and Lucretia Van Brunt and they lived at 218 Rivington. Mid 1800’s. I came here hoping to see an old building…..

Delphine March 12, 2019 - 10:41 pm

My father had a hardware store on Rivington Street in the early 60’s called Sol’s Hardware Store

vidal September 30, 2019 - 7:32 pm

If my memory dont fail , I remember going to a hardware store on Rivington street between Orchard street and Allen street with my father. Could you be talking about this hardware?

Susan Slowes June 16, 2019 - 1:30 pm

My mother grew up at 13 Pitt Street and went to Seward Park High School, which still exists. The tenement her family lived in was demolished years ago and the neighborhood has been thoroughly rebuilt and modernized.

C Saul July 23, 2019 - 12:36 am

My father, Henry Saul, attended Seward. He lived on Orchard Street.

Ed Pepe August 6, 2019 - 4:21 pm

My great-grandmother Rose Pepe lived with her son Rafael at 333 Rivington in 1925.

vidal September 30, 2019 - 7:37 pm

I lived in 48 Rivington street with my parentes in the 60’s and went to PS 20 on Essex street.

Nancy November 17, 2019 - 4:57 pm

My Zayda, Jacob Stein owned the building and the company inside the building, Roumanian-American Winery, Inc. It was located at either 110 or 112 Rivington Street. I have photos of the inside of the winery as well as a couple of bottles with labels probably from the 30’s. Does anyone have knowledge or photos as to it’s history, which building it was?

Warren J January 1, 2020 - 5:58 pm

I believe the Aaron Streits matzoh factory was eventually sold with the factory moving to somewhere in New Jersey. As a student at the former PS160, I spent a lot of time “grazing” along Rivington Street near the school: pickles from an actual pickle purveyor and, of course, matzoh “rejects” that were placed at an open window on Rivington Street.

I am so happy that PS160 was repurposed to become a cultural center versus being torn down. I haven’t been in this area since I left elementary school (early-1960’s); my parents were fortunate enough to be able to “move up”. My brother eventually went to Stuyvesant HS while I went to HS of Art & Design. He is now a retired nuclear engineer while I am a retired industrial/architectural designer. I must make a trip to NYC to revisit these places to see how much has changed since I was at PS160. How the world has changed!!

ROBERT BIRNBAUM May 30, 2020 - 3:51 pm

I’m going through some family stuff and came across my dad’s school day autobiography with his classmates notes…..it’s dated Jan 1940 and references PS 160…..Since he grew up on the lower east side, I’m guessing the school was somewhere around Rivington Street? when I did a Google search, it was putting me in Jamaica Queens, which I know he didn’t live there. He also graduated Seward Park High School

David Fine April 5, 2020 - 7:22 pm

Anyone hear stories of any Fine’s that lived on rivington in the early 1900’s?
I know we had relatives from Russia/Poland that lived there but that’s all we know.

John Weil April 24, 2020 - 4:24 pm

My Gt,Gt Uncle Max J Porges and his wife Barbara, mentioned above, owned the old Hotel Carmel on the NE corner of Rivington and Forsythe from about 1876 to 1920’s. 36 Rivington and 168 Forsythe. He was an Alderman and a Deputy Sheriff and quite a character. I am writing a small book about him and his wifefor my family and although the hotel is long gone, if anyone has any information on them or pictures, I would really appreciate it. Thanks

Steph December 16, 2020 - 2:35 pm

My grandparents, Joe and Jean Bierman lived on Rivington Street and had business there from the late 20’s to the early 70’s, starting out as a hatmaker (JB Hatters) and then operating a hardware variety store at 149 Rivington St. The Hat store and factory were at 167 Rivington St. Both my parents attended PS 160 in the mid to late 30’s and my mother went onto Seward Park High….I remember several photo shops on the block between Clinton and Suffolk, one at 156 and another at149(second floor).

Anonymous January 6, 2021 - 12:41 am

My Grandfather, Isadore Weissman, owned a glat kosher butcher shop on Rivington near the corner of Bowery. He died in 1907 when my father was 2 years old. When I first visited NY in 1967, it was still there owned and operated by the man who bought it 60 years ago from then from my family. It remained a flat kosher butcher shop until around 1990 when it became a trendy furniture store. I have not been back to NY for many years, so I don’t know what it is now.


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