Last year, the Department of Cultural Affairs of New York City, through its Percent for Art Program, issued a call for artists to submit plans for artwork that would recognize and honor the history of the downtown neighborhood known as Little Syria. The winner, French-Moroccan-artist, Sara Ouhaddou, was announced and moving forward with her installations, she has given us a glimpse of what will grace Elizabeth H. Berger Plaza, using Arabic calligraphy in asphalt and stone.
New York City Department of Parks and Recreation will bring together two green spaces, creating a 20,000 square foot park, to commemorate the influential writers and poets associated with Little Syria. The location will be at the convergence of Trinity Place, Greenwich Street, Edgar Street, and the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel Exit.
Elizabeth H. Berger Plaza, which will pay tribute to the Little Syria community, will also provide a pedestrian link from the 911 Memorial to Battery Park, with an anticipated completion date that may be this year.
In 2017, the New York City Department of Records held the exhibit, Little Syria: An Immigrant Community’s Life and Legacy at Metropolitan College of New York. The exhibit was a pictorial timeline of the thriving community that existed from the 1880s to the 1940s. The mostly Christian Syrian/Lebanese immigrants settled in the Lower West Side. Educated and multilingual, it became a hub for writers, poets, newspaper editors, essayists, and novelists of Arab descent. It is where the Pen League was formed.
Descendants of the original group of immigrants in Little Syria can still be found in this neighborhood today. Three remaining structures still stand and tours of this historic area are given by the Washington Street Historical Society.
Stay tuned for updates.