Defunct Sheriff Street’s infamous resident

Sheriff Street used to run from Houston to Grand Streets on the Lower East Side. But then housing developments built in the 1940s obliterated it, and all that remains now is this lonely sign beside the Williamsburg Bridge.

sheriffstreetsign Not much distinguished Sheriff Street from other streets in the jam-packed immigrant neighborhood in the early part of the 20th century.

Except for one thing: Sheriff Street was the location of the childhood home of Ethel Rosenberg, executed with her husband Julius for espionage in 1953.

According to Ethel Rosenberg: Beyond the Myths, by Ilene Philipson, Sheriff Street was a loud, dingy block:

“[Ethel] was delivered at 64 Sheriff Street, a tenement house between Rivington and Delancey Streets. The trains traveling to and from Brooklyn over the Williamsburg Bridge, a half-block away, provided a loud and constant drone against which the street offered up its cacophony of voices and clatter.”


“A synogogue and several small machine shops were also on the block. Taken together, these various enterprises gave Sheriff Street a distinctly commercial cast, although the many  tenements housed hundreds of people above the din and tumult of the street,” Philipson writes.

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70 Responses to “Defunct Sheriff Street’s infamous resident”

  1. steve hernandez Says:

    Great read… I grew up across the street from Sheriff. It’s nice to see the history behind it.

  2. Jane Eisen Says:

    Just found my fathers birth certificate and it reads that he was born at
    64 Sherrif Street, Manhattan June 10, 1919

    • Susan Forman Says:

      Jane, my father was born 1900 at 37 Sheriff and painted a picture of the building before it was demolished. I have a copy.

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Wow, the Greenglass family was probably there.

    • Jane Eisen Cubides Says:

      My father was a neighbor of Ethel
      Rosenberg and his family told
      Him not to invite the Rosenberg’s
      To his wedding

  4. She’s from the Lower East…. « The ABC Cancer Diaries Says:

    […] says his great grandparents also lived in Sheriff Street for sharing more info about Sheriff Street here and […]

  5. Karin Frey Says:

    My father and his two brothers spent their early childhood on Sheriff Street. Russian Jews, my grandparents escaped the Bolsheviks and, three years later, came to NY. My grandmother was a nurse and my grandfather a barber. I tried to take my parents to the NY Tenement museum. My father laughed. He said that it was unnecessary since he lived it. Sheriff Street with its cold water flats is gone, but the stories of the early 1900’s live on.

    • Jane Eisen Says:

      Your family must have known my family and coincidently my father
      (Morton Eisen) also had two brothers and a sister. They lived
      at 64 Sheriff Street.

  6. Ireneusz Socha Says:

    Dear All, do you – by any chance – have any photograph of the 81 Sheriff Street building that housed the Sanditzer and Dembitzer Congregation Rubin B’nai Aaron? I would really appreciate any clues/information. Best! Ireneusz Socha

    • Jane Eisen Says:

      Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of Sheriff St. I remember viewing what was left of the street when my father would go to visit his pals on Saturdays.

  7. Mitch Says:

    Concerning the Sanditzer and Dembitzer Congregation Rubin B’nai Aaron, you may want to check YIVO. See link, this may be helpful.

  8. Gail Pasternack Says:

    I lived at 75 Sherrif St. from about 1948-1955. My parents owned the building and opened a laundromat at the corner of Sherrif and Rivington St. I have several photos of the street from 1953.

    Does anyone remember the laundromat?

    • Jane Eisen Says:

      Can you post the pictures you have of Sherrif Street so we can view them?

      • Gail Pasternack Says:

        I will have to locate the photos and have them scanned. Most of the photos were taken from on the corner of Sherrif and Rivington.

      • Jane Eisen Says:

        Thank you, it will be so appreciated!

    • Frank Casalino Says:

      Yes we lived on Sherrif across the street from 1946 to 1956.

      • barbara ellen bernstein Says:

        I lived at 82 Sheriff St. from 1948 to 1952. It was my parents first apt. after they married, in 1945. I do remember the laundromat, and the Shul, was across the street…my mom knew Ethel Rosenberg, and later on, when we moved to the Alred E. Smith Houses, she ran into her, as they moved to Knickerboker Village, which was accross the street, from our building….of course, this was before they were arrested for espionage….

  9. Gail Pasternack Says:

    Hi Jane,

    I have two photos that I found that I would like to put on the site but can’t figure out how to do it.

    • Jane Eisen Says:

      Hi Gail – hmm– (so close but yet so far) I will ask my husband
      tonight if he can help instruct you what steps to follow
      to upload to the site.

    • Jane Eisen Says:

      The picture has to be converted to a JPEG Type file. Costco
      has this service. Or if you have a scanner you can do it at home.
      Hope that helps.
      Jane Gail Eisen

  10. Gail Pasternack Says:

    Here are the 2 photos.

    You can click on the following links to see two pictures taken on Sheriff St.

    Both of these photos were taken facing north on the west side of Sheriff st. The first photo shows the east side of the street.

    My parents are talking to neighbors and leaning on their car. I am holding hands with my cousin . My sister is holding a doll and is standing next to my older brother. My cousin lived one block south, also on Sheriff Street. These photos probably were taken in 1951 or 1952. On the side walk you can see the basement entrance to 75 Sheriff.


    • Jane Eisen Says:

      Awesome– thank you so much– I forwarded the pictures to my family and anxious to hear there responses.
      My family lived on that street decades earlier.

      • Ruth rosoff Says:

        Ruth Rosoff:
        When I was born, we lived at 83 Sheriff Street. Does anyone out there have pictures of the building?

  11. Rand (Randy) H. Fishbein Says:

    It is wonderful to see so many people making ancestral connections with Sheriff Street. My grandfather and his family (the Fishbeins), lived at 87 Sheriff Street in the 1900-1902 time frame. Does anyone have a connection with this building? My g-grandfather was a candy peddler. For anyone with a sweet tooth and roots on Sheriff Street, your condition may be traceable to a Polish-Jewish immigrant by the name of Jacob Fishbein.

    I look forward to hearing more stories about Sheriff street and to learning if any photographs exist of No. 87.



    Rand H. Fishbein, Ph.D.

    • Judith Broadribb Says:

      Hi Randy
      I am from Wales, uk. My gt gt aunt Margaret Jones (nee Richards) b1858 Llanelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales and her
      husband William Jones lived at 59 Sheriff St, circa 1881 to at least 1886. In a city directory William’s occupation was given as “candy”.

      They had at least two children, one was born in Sheriff st in 1881.
      They were still there in the 1886 directory but I loose track of them after this date and the family in Wales lost touch about 1906. I think they must have emigrated from Wales about 1876-1880, but haven’t been able to find them on any census and not sure if they emigrated before they were married, as I can’t find a marriage in either country.

      William’s occupation in Wales was an iron moulder, so was surprised to find him involved with candy, maybe he was a pedlar too?

      I’d be grateful if anybody found any information on the Jones’s? The family story is that nothing was heard from them after 1906, the time of the San Fransisco earthquake, but I think this is just a myth.

      I would be grateful for any information regarding my Jones family,

      Kind regards
      Judith Broadribb

    • denberg Says:

      Hi Randy,

      I was just looking at the 1905 ship manifest for my great-grandfather, Zelig Tepper, which states he will be living with his brother, Abraham, at 87 Sherriff Street. Zelig was 23 at the time. I know the years are different, but perhaps our relatives knew each other.

    • Liz Milner Says:

      An old Brooklyn Directory from 1878 has the following entry, “Yanowitz, Saml (Handlin & Yanowitz) h87 Sheriff.” I think this means that Samuel lived at 87 Sherriff Street. I don’t know what the “h” is for. Home, perhaps? My grandfather was Joseph Handlin and my grandmother was Ida Yanowitz, but I didn’t know that there had been earlier connections between those two families. Does anybody know anything more about 87 Sherriff Street?

    • Susan Forman Says:

      I have a painting of 37 Sheriff

    • Cheryl Says:

      My family lived on Sheriff between Rivington and Delancey until 1954. My cousins lived between Rivington and Stanton until 1955. So, Masaryk Towers was built after that date.

    • Jocelyn Adelman Says:

      Hi Randy, my great grandparents lived at 87 Sherriff, they were married there in 1909, surname Kirschenbaum

  12. Cheryl Pasternack Says:

    I am Gail’s cousin (the one in the photo). My family lived at 47 Sheriff Street during the same time period that Gail lived there.

    There was a barber shop downstairs..I think it was called Moishe’s. Our grandparents had lived in the same apartment in the 1940s; we moved in sometime in 1949. I actually remember the night that the Rosenbergs were executed.

    • Gale Mittelman Says:

      I think you are talking about my grandfather’s barber shop Morris Mittelman. My dad went to PS 4. If perchance you get this reply I would love to hear about any memories you have. My dad says they lived in one of the apartments above the barber shop.

    • Cheryl Says:

      I also went to PS4 only for 1st grade, after going to PS 15 on East 4th Street near my grandparents’ building. We lived on the second floor of 47. I remember there were snake plants in the barbershop window. Our neighbors were the Glassbergs. They had 2 sons, Sammy and Sidney. I remember the older son was drafted into the army during the Korean War.

      My grandparents had lived in the apartment before we did.

      One of my most enduring memories was the night that the Rosenbergs were executed. I remember that it was very hot and that there were what I remember to be hundreds of people, and that my mother told me that they had to be electrocuted before Shabbos. She had gone downstairs to bu y milk and it took her a long time to return home because the street was so crowded with reporters and neighbors .

      • Gale Says:

        I will ask my Dad if he remembers any of the names you mentioned when I talk to him in Florida. Moshe was his father Morris Mittelman a barber. My Dad David born in 1930 had a brother Richie born about 5 years later. Thanks for replying

  13. Sara R. Augustin Says:

    My grandparents had a kosher butcher shop on Sheriff Street around 1920 to 1930. I would love to know more about this or see a picture of the shop or street. Their last name was Grosskopf. If anyone has any info please let me know. Thanks Sara.

  14. mitch Says:

    This would be between Pitt & Columbia. I believe the Marrisik (sp) Apartments are there now.

  15. The final days of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] For the next 14 months, a flurry of appeals, pleas, and protests tried to save the lives of the husband and wife convicted spies, ages 32 and 35, both natives of the Lower East Side. […]

  16. Ellery Jacks Says:

    There are photos are of 88 and 90 Sheriff Street at

    • Jane Eisen Says:

      Thank you for sharing the link with the picture of Sheriff Street– my father was born in one of those buildings in 1919!!

      Jane Eisen VP Sales NJ Moldow Associates

  17. Cheryl Pasternack Says:

    Our building, 47 Sheriff Street was between Rivington and Delancey, closer to Delancey. I have a faint memory of going to the live chicken market somewhere near the Williamsburg Bridge. I also remember an amusement park that was under the bridge during the summer months.

    By the way, the changes to Sheriff Street happened after 1954 which is when I moved away. Until then the street went straight through from Delancey to Houston St.

  18. Robert Ressler Says:

    My great grandparents and grandmother, Charles, Maria and Bertha Schmidt, lived at 113 Sheriff Street. Wish I could find a photo. Thanks for the great info and cool photos.

  19. Liza Rodriguez Says:

    So nice to find this page and see all the wonderful memories of immigrant families who lived on Sheriff Street in NYC. In doing some research on my German immigrant ancestors, I located my great-great grandmothers death certificate which stated that she lived at 15 Sheriff Street until she died in 1924. I’m curious as to where the burial place is though: Holy Trinity Cemetery. I can’t find anything on google about this burial place. Anyone have a clue?

    • barbara ellen bernstein Says:

      Holy Trinity is in Brooklyn….If it’s the one your talking about, the headstones are made of tin…it’s an old cemetery and, German immigrants are buried there, but it is in horrible condition…if you google it, you’ll see pictures of it…

  20. al stahl Says:

    I lived in an old public school on sheriff st near Houston st in 1953. I remember an old police pct around the corner.

  21. Bill Berlinghoff Says:

    I’m told that my great-grandmother, Margaret Brigetta Berlinghoff, had a candy store on Sheriff St. in the 1890s, but I can’t find anything about it. Does anyone have relevant info?

  22. syndicalistnyc Says:

    Also, the old New York (City) Directory for many of the years of that decade are on line. I basically typed in “candy stores, sheriff street” then a year.


    I recently found out that the City of New York had photographers take a photo of every building in the 5 boroughs starting in the late 1930’s. These photos were for tax purposes.

    Anyone can order these photos on line. Google search —Department of Records Tax photographs of New York City . I received a photo of 75 Sheriff St. (at the corner of Sheriff and Rivington Sts.) There is a cost and it does take about 5 weeks to arrive in the mail.

    • William Herzig Says:

      thank you for the information. My Great Grandfather lived at 75 Sheriff St. in 1902. I will get the photo’s even though it is about 30 years later. Thanks again for the information

  24. The church wall that protected Irish immigrants | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] in lethal gang brawls and the burning of Manhattan’s third Catholic church on (now defunct) Sheriff Street by […]

  25. ruth mullins Says:

    I lived on sheriif st born 1944 went to ps 4

  26. Dorothy Says:

    i lived on 122 sheriff st..

    • Cheryl Pasternack Says:

      Masaryk Towers was built in 1966. My family moved from 47 Sherriff St to Flushing, Queens in 1954.

  27. Dorothy Barbely Says:

    please contact me if you lived on sheriff st. 1947

  28. barbara stein bernstein Says:

    I lived at 82 Sheriff St from 1948 to 1952. It was a green building, and I remember it had white little tiles in the front hallway…we lived on the second floor…my parents were Toby and Jack Stein….

  29. bialystocker Says:

    My great grandparents were married at 66 Sheriff Street in 1905.

    • Mitch F Says:

      Bialystocker My wife and a distant relative that were either married at 66 or 68 sheriff st, This was 1911 year. This is what it says on the marriage certificate. Leib Rose Rabbi

  30. Leslie T Says:

    I just found out my great grandfather, Moses Napelbaum lived
    at 5 Sheriff St in 1899.

  31. William Herzig Says:

    My Great Grandfather, Schachna Herzig Lived at 75 Sheriff St in 1902. His Neighbor at 80 Sheriff St. was Moritz Klein and was his witness on his application for Citizenship

  32. joyce c zelcer Says:

    my grandfather was the rabbi at a synagogue on sheriff Street for 2 years- 1924/1925. I don’t know the name of the synagogue, but he came to NY from Liverpool, England for this position. He was from Latvia. so my guess is that the synagogue must have had it’s roots with Latvian jews… any feedback on how I can find out name of synagogue woud be appreciated.

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