NYC - LES: Former Jewish Daily Forward Building
The Jewish Daily Forward Building at 175 East Broadway was built in 1912. The Forward relocated to midtown in 1974, where it remains, and was succeeded by a Chinese church. The building was into a 39-unit apartment complex in 1999.
Taking the name of a successful Socialist paper in Berlin, the Yiddish-language Daily Forward was first published in 1897 serving the swelling working-class immigrant population in the area. Abraham Cahan, the first editor, fled Russia after revolutionary activities. It was under his direction that the 8-page paper became more than just a broadside of political ideology, choosing to address “daily life” and local news. By the opening of the building, in the same year Socialist Eugene Debbs garnered 901,000 votes in the Presidential election, circulation had reached 120,000. The 1920’s saw circulation peak at 275,000, generating assets over $1MM, allowing the Forward to donate tens of thousands of dollars a year to labor and charity organizations. Laws in 1924 and 1929 restricted immigration eventually weakened the paper’s reach and by 1939 circulation had dropped to 170,000. Despite this, the Forward enjoyed a reputation as a literary paper attracting contributors like Isaac Bashevis Singer, Elie Wiesel and Art Spiegelman. In 1963, an English supplement was launched and today it prospers as a weekly with a circulation of 45,000 in English, Yiddish and Russian.
A popular story was that the building was built in reaction to the Capitalist symbolism of the nearby Jarmulowksy Bank Building, but the construction started one year earlier. Designed by George Boehm, the 11-story midblock building still towers over the shorter houses and tenements in the area. Boehm would reuse the cream-and-tan exterior and delicate terra cotta design a few laters for his Chalif Dancing School (163 West 57th St). Above the second floor, a series of relief busts depict four famous socialists, including Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Above them two oversize reclining figures in classical dress against a blue background flank a torch, an image that runs through the building's decoration.
The Forward Building was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1986.