109 Washington Street

New York City, United States

109 Washington Street

109 Washington Street is a five-story tenement in the Financial District of Manhattan in New York City, within the area once known as Little Syria. Due to demolitions connected to the construction of the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel and the World Trade Center, it stands as the last tenement on a portion of lower Washington Street that has been estimated by Kate Reggev to have contained around 50 tenements. After September 11, 2001, its proximity to the World Trade Center site made it the subject of some media attention, including a nationally syndicated radio story about the experiences of its residents on the day of the attack. In recent years, community officials, activists, and preservationists have advocated for its designation as a landmark as part of a mini-historical district with the connected buildings of St. George's Syrian Catholic Church and the Downtown Community House.

A four-story, brick “public store” that received goods from the piers on West Street stood at 109 Washington Street since the early 1820s, if not before; several other nearby buildings on Washington Street at Nos. 97, 101, and 103 were also commercial structures serving the same purpose. Typically, public stores in large cities like New York housed goods coming directly from the wharves so that they could be appraised before being brought to the individual shops or markets where they would be sold. Owned at the time by Samuel Swartwout, a wealthy land speculator, an 1837 fire at the store led to a valuation of its goods at approximately $300,000, including pipes of lime juice; boxes of glass; cases of wine, brandy, and gin; boxes of cigars; and cases of cordials. By the 1850s, the property housed a residential building that was occupied by Irish and Irish-American families throughout the 1860s and 1870s; beginning in the 1870s and 1880s, German immigrants joined the Irish population. Common occupations were servants, sailors, cooks, machinists, laborers, longshoremen, and barbers.

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