Restoring the early Arab community to its rightful place as a distinctive thread in the immigrant fabric of New York City and America. 

Founded in 2013

About WSHS

Washington Street Historical Society (WSHS) aims to restore to the Great American Story the forgotten history of the earliest Arabic-speaking community in the United States. Our mission is to foster education and awareness about the history of Arab migration to the lower Washington Street neighborhood of Manhattan, once known as the Syrian Quarter. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Since its emergence on the Lower West Side of Manhattan at the end of the 19th century, the first community of Arab immigrants to the United States has played an important role in the history and politics of both the United States and the Middle East, at the same time promoting mutual understanding between the two. Through a variety of cultural, religious, artistic and political organizations they worked to preserve their cultural identity, advocate for their members, and became “American” or “Arab American”.

By working to preserve the few surviving historic buildings on Washington Street, promoting educational activities and events, including walking tours of the area, developing and curating a collection of historic artifacts and archival materials, as well as collaborating with the City of New York to install public art in recognition of the literary legacy of the early community, WSHS aims to highlight Arab immigrant history and how it fits into the New York and wider American experience. 

To learn more, take a virtual journey.

Our Board Members

Our Partners

Strategic partnerships are important for our community’s advocacy efforts, and we are grateful for the continued encouragement and support from our partner organizations. Their websites also provide valuable resources and library archives on Arab immigration to the United States.

Contact Us
We welcome contact and collaboration from media, scholars, artists, students and all interested parties. Our goal is education and collaboration. You can contact us via the form below, or email us at and we’ll respond to you at the soonest!