Commemorating the first Arabic-speaking community in the United States

Founded in 2013

Our Mission

Washington Street Historical Society (WSHS) aims to restore the forgotten history of the earliest Arabic-speaking community in the United States to its rightful place in the Great American Story. Our mission is to foster education and awareness about the early Arab immigrant settlement that flourished on Washington Street in Lower Manhattan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a neighborhood once known as the Syrian Quarter.



Al Qalam Touring App

The WSHS Touring App is a unique bilingual application that offers a virtual tour of the historic Syrian neighborhood on Washington Street. Archival photos, videos and short essays reconstruct what has been lost to development.

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Washington Street Historical society

“Al Qalam: Poets in the Park”Monument

A Memorial to the Poets of the Syrian Colony


Learn more about the history of Arab migration to the lower Washington Street neighborhood of Manhattan

Archive Gallery

Check out our library of video and still photographs, interviews, documentaries, etc.

Washington Street in Context

The Demise of the Washington Street Neighborhood

The article below originally appeared as an AP News item on October…
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Palestine at the Centennial Fair of 1876

On 10 May 1876, U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant opened the Centennial…
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Paris, 1913: The Arab Congress

One hundred years ago Muslims and Christians from the Middle East joined…
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Remembering the Pen Bond