“The Ghetto” on a 1926 Manhattan map

I wonder when “ghetto” went from being a perfectly acceptable name for a Jewish enclave in a big city to a word that feels derogatory, almost slanderous?

This 87-year-old map doesn’t use the word as a term of reproach, and countless newspaper articles and postcards from the late 19th and early 20th century refer to the then–heavily Jewish Lower East Side as New York’s Jewish Ghetto.


To contemporary readers, though, it can be jarring to see it on a reproduction of an innocuous map like this one.

Published by Fuessle & Colman, it depicts “the wondrous isle of Manhattan,” with the scale “all askew,” as the legend on the bottom right-hand side proudly states.

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13 Responses to ““The Ghetto” on a 1926 Manhattan map”

  1. Steve Swirsky Says:

    I don’t know that ghetto was ever a rally acceptable term. I would love to see the whole map, how they dealt with Harlem and other areas. Not particularly PC. Although Italian Quarter for Little Italy seems pretty progressive.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I have half the map, from about the West 130s down, and it’s large and hard to scan in. Interestingly they don’t identify Harlem at all; for that area, they call out City College.

  3. Cheryl Lynn Blum Says:

    Ghettos in European towns were small, cramped spaces where Jewish people were isolated and confined. Probably the most well-known was the Warsaw Ghetto, made famous during World War II, but ghettos had existed for hundreds of years. It was never considered an acceptable term; it was always derogatory.

  4. chas Says:

    I would love to have even a reproduction of this in a frame….

  5. Peter Lewis Says:

    “The Ghetto” map appears to have been drawn by the same artist,
    named “Oppy,” (surname Oppenheimer), who created hand-drawn car cards that appeared in the NYC subways for many years. Can anyone confirm this?

    • Dave Maynard Says:

      No ! It was designed by C V Farrow ! I have an original for sale now on Ebay ! Ebay search Manhattan Ghetto map 1926 !

  6. Michael Rumble Says:

    If anyone is interested I have a ORIGINAL copy of this map for sale. Contact me at: flmrumble@yahoo.com

  7. Dave Maynard Says:

    I have an original copy of this map for sale on EBAY NOW / Ebay search Manhattan 1926 ghetto map !

  8. The Lower East Side neighborhood of “Judea” | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Section. The Lower East Side around the turn of the 20th century had several nicknames—with The Ghetto sounding particularly strange to contemporary […]

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