The preserved façade at 58-60 Rivington Street (Photo: Daniel Hoffman)

Hale Gurland was among the aspiring artists, bohemians, and hippies who crowded Soho in the 1970s. From the small room he rented on Wooster Street, the Jewish sculptor and painter ventured out one day in 1973 to buy a pair of cheap shoes. On his way, he noticed a derelict synagogue with a “For Sale” sign at 58-60 Rivington, at the corner of Elridge, a scene he described in a magazine interview a couple of years ago: “People were going inside the building because the doors were out, junkies were shooting up. I walked in, and the place looked like Dresden after the bombs.”

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