Jewish Women on the Map - Forward Building
Between 1912 and 1972, this impressive ten-story building was home to the offices of the Forverts, the Yiddish-language daily founded in 1897 to "spread the ideas of socialism among the Jewish masses." Once one of the most widely circulated Jewish papers in the world, the Forward both served and shaped the large immigrant Jewish community that populated New York City in the first half of the 20th century.
The Forward building was known as "the principal nerve center of the entire Jewish quarter." The paper rented space to like-minded organizations such as the United Hebrew Trades and the Workmen's Circle, an American Jewish socialist fraternal order. A large auditorium was used for rallies, speeches, and Yiddish theater performances.
The Forward provided many immigrants an education in socialism and trade unionism. It made no pretense of neutrality: it organized soup kitchens for striking workers, posted strike bulletins on its building, and printed special strike editions. In addition to supporting the labor and socialist movements, the paper attacked dishonest politicians and exposed the unsafe and unhealthy conditions in which working-class New Yorkers lived and labored.
The paper was responsive to the needs of its many female readers and often carried articles about and by women workers. As a crucial instrument of Americanization, it also urged readers who worked long hours in sweatshops to go to night school, take advantage of activities in the settlement houses, and improve themselves by visiting museums uptown. One of its most popular features, (which endures as a blog), was "A Bintel Brief," an advice column that printed questions from anonymous readers and instructive replies from the editors.
Today the building houses residential condominiums. Its unusual height, architecture, and decorative features dominate the neighborhood much as they did a century ago.
See also: The Jewish Daily Forward.