A virtual map of London’s Jewish East End was launched today in an effort to preserve memories of the area through audio testimonies, research and pictures.
The colour-coded map, accessible on www.jewisheastendmemorymap.org, explores the Jewish histories of more than 70 historical landmarks and significant sites, including Jewish schools, shuls, markets, youth clubs and theatres.
Some 33 former and current residents – including the Stepney Green-born playwright Bernard Kops – were interviewed for the interactive map, which was built and researched over the course of two years.
The Jewish East End Memory Map was created by the author Rachel Lichtenstein, a former archivist at Sandys Row Synagogue, together with academics in University College London’s built environment department.
Dr Duncan Hay, a digital humanities scholar who worked on the project, said on Monday: “Putting stuff on the map allows you to understand how people move through a place and how that might have affected their lives and how institutions got to become important.”
Dr Hay, who is part of the Bartlett School of Architecture’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL, added: “I hope [our web visitors] have a similar experience to me, which is to find stories that you didn’t know and get to understand Whitechapel in a way.
“Knowing those sorts of patterns and how that community, which now has largely moved on to other places, has affected that place is a really special insight because it’s not obvious anymore. You see traces of it, the Beigel Bake. You’re never going to find Sandys Row Synagogue unless you know where it is. It feels very special to discover that.”
Around 100,000 Jewish migrants from Russia and parts of Europe were based in London’s East End by 1900, according to the map’s authors. But the community began dwindling by the Second World War, with many residents moving to north London and Essex.