Suzanne Wasserman, Historian of New York City and Filmmaker, Dies at 60

Historians in the News
tags: obituary, Suzanne Wasserman

Suzanne Wasserman, a Chicago-born historian and filmmaker who made New York City, especially the Lower East Side, the focus of her work in a wide array of publications, exhibitions and educational programs, died on Monday in Manhattan. She was 60.

Her son, Raphael Stern, said the cause was progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare brain disorder.

Ms. Wasserman became intrigued by the Lower East Side — the teeming Manhattan enclave where European immigrants settled in the late 19th and early 20th centuries — soon after moving to the East Village in the 1980s.

“I became fascinated by the remaining Jewish informal and formal institutions and people,” she told the blog Who Walk in Brooklyn in 2008. “It morphed slowly into a 1990 dissertation about the Lower East Side during the Depression. I was interested in why certain people remain in certain neighborhoods instead of moving away, and how those who move away feel about their neighborhood after they’ve gone.”

Her interest in the area led her in the 1990s to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum on Orchard Street, a formerly abandoned six-story building that had begun housing poor immigrants in the 19th century. As a consultant and then a staff member, she shaped the stories that are told about the Baldizzi and Gumpertz families, who had once lived there, and trained the guides who led visitors though their recreated apartments. ...

Read entire article at NYT

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