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Snowballing and Street Bocce: How Lower East Siders Escaped the Grit

Corlear's Hook Park - older girl with books on one side of table in playground, early 1900s (Lewis Hine)

How many times have you played street bocce or jumped off the dock for a dip in the Hudson?

Pouring through some of the 180,000 hi-res digital images just released to the public domain by the New York Public Library, we were especially fascinated by all the images of recreation and leisure. We tend to relate the Lower East Side’s history to, say, Jacob Riis’s photos of grungy, overcrowded tenements, but over and over photos jumped out from the archives showing kids from the turn of the century swinging in new playgrounds, reading books at Hamilton Fish Park, or playing a massive game of London Bridge in a back alley. We’ve gathered some of them in the slideshow below.

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Share Your Own (or Grandma’s) Greenpoint Story with this Brooklyn Archival Project

Our Streets Our Stories Community Scanning (Photo by Kavitha Surana)

Our Streets Our Stories Community Scanning (Photo by Kavitha Surana)

Tadusz Chabrowski hands were shaking as he rifled through a pile of photos, looking for his favorite. “Oh here!” he said, pulling out a photo of himself standing in his eyeglasses shop. “When I was young– 100 years younger!” he laughed. His shop, Family Optical, once located at 120 Norman Avenue in Greenpoint, has been closed for 16 years, and yet his memories of the place are still as vivid as ever. 

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