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046 Hester Street

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Home Ragtime Articles of Interest 046 Hester Street

046 Hester Street

Hester Street was a huge marketplace that stretched down along the entire street. Shoppers flooded the streets on a daily basis because of the variety of pushcarts filled with bread, vegetables, fruit, possibly clothing and other types of food. With the amount of random strangers roaming around on a daily basis, Hester Street probably was not the safest area for Tateh’s daughter. Anything could go wrong in any neighborhood, but this one seemed even less safe. Also considering the living conditions Tateh and his daughter lived in, brings up the thought of them being extremely vulnerable to sickness. Almost right away did the little girl get a fever. (Below is a picture showing the length of Hester Street, giving an idea of how large this marketplace actually was.)


The sidewalks were filled with garbage and it got worse day by day with garbage just sitting outside peoples' apartment steps in its cans. It was cleaned up daily, but with how many shoppers there were each day seemed to be the same.

Picture of Hester Street with people walking around and shopping.In Ragtime, Hester Street was where Tateh and his daughter had originally lived when they were in the city together. Evelyn Nesbit had concern for the two of them and wanted to care for the daughter; she was easily able to figure out where they lived on the street. Tateh and his daughter lived on the top floor in their building which carried a raunchy smell throughout the hallways and staircases. They had two small rooms towards the back which contained a cot for Tateh, and a small brass bed for his daughter. Both rooms were dark, despite having a window. Evelyn compared each of their rooms to her closet, which she actually thought was even bigger in size. Evelyn knew their living conditions were total opposite which was a reason she had thoughts of kidnapping Tateh's little girl because she wanted to give her, what she thought, would be a better life. She never did kindap Tateh's little girl though, but instead, visited her daily and offered any kind of help when it was necessary.




Not only was Hester Street referenced to in the book Ragtime, but a black and white motion picture movie, called "Hester Street", was also made in 1975 by director Joan Micklin Silver. Hester Street was located in the Lower Eastside of Manhattan, which was known to be one of the busiest areas to live in. It was also where many Jewish immigrants entered America looking for a new start in life. This was a romantic film where two people were set out to live the American dream they had always wished for, fighting through many of life's obstacles along the way.

Hester Street's purpose has not changed since when it first opened, but the variety of items being sold and its surrounding neighborhood have. In today's world, there are more than pushcarts containing bread, vegetables and other food items being sold in this market; now people are more into selling jewelry, designer clothing, shoes or even toys for the children. The Hester Street Fair attracts more vendors each go around which, in result, brings in more money from the public to help support the fair. There are small restaurants and bars within close range as well. The fair isn't only just a fair, it holds special events where it involves the kids and their family to gather and enjoy their Saturday afternoons. Viewing the picture below shows the changes made to the fair and how much more organized it is then it previously used to be.


-The pictures above just show some of the merchandise sold at the Hester Street fair now a days and also what Hester Street looks like compared to when it first started out.







Last Updated on Monday, 19 September 2011 22:19  


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