Visits with Françoise Terzian
New York – August 2003
By Fabienne Boulineau
“Today, a friend visiting New York told me, 'I walked in
the Lower East Side. Do you know,' he asked me with a passionate
'that this neighborhood tells practically the entire history of the immigrants
that came to New York in search of refuge and liberty?' 'Really,'
I respond to him, sharing in the curiosity and the frustration." But
why must it be that the tourists know more about the city than
its own inhabitants?
It is because no New Yorker ever poses the
question that Françoise
Terzian, a French citizen who has lived in New York for 12 years,
has organized as a tour for the French of New York, and of course
also for the tourists - guided walking tours in the neighborhoods
of Manhattan: the Lower East Side, Chelsea, City Hall, Wall Street,
Harlem, and Central Park. In complete simplicity, with just a
small notebook, a true encyclopedia where dates, names and other
details are written by hand, Françoise takes you “off
the beaten path,” where the “city bus tours” don’t
take you, where the tour guides remained silent.
the Guide Association of New York City, Françoise
invites you to discover a New York you have never seen in French
for three hours. In contact with the New York tourism, referred
by the Lonely Planet guides, the tours are organized by the demands
of the “clients.”
Free for children under the age
of 16, the tours cost $25 per participant - a price rather modest
and almost ridiculous compared
to the richness
of information dispensed by Françoise in her company.
the curiosity of everyone, without revealing all the mysteries
of the Lower East Side, here you can learn, discover,
your knowledge with a guide unlike all others.
Now 85 percent
Chinese and 10 to 15 percent Jewish, the Lower East Side was, the
stage of historically, politically, socially,
ethnically important events in the 19th Century, not only for
that neighborhood, but for the city of New York.
In 1881 and
1914, 2 million Russians, mostly Jewish, chased out by the tyranny
of the czar who forbid them to practice their
religion, took their chance in the west, arriving at the port
of Ellis Island,
and going to live in the Lower East Side. 600 synagogues would
be constructed, and nowadays, Yiddish is still mixed in with
English and Chinese on the face of buildings. But without Françoise
and her informed attention, it is highly probable that you wouldn’t
“I love this neighborhood that my fellow-members almost
Françoise. “I love the smells, the dirtiness. Here,
all this that one could have read in books is still visible!” And
this is the magic of these tours. It is like going to the Museum
of Ellis Island and reenacting the way of the immigrants. But
better that a recording, this is Françoise’s voice
speaking to you and explaining everything.
Continuing, the establishment
of the first communist newspapers the first strikes, the first
housing aids, the first orphanages,
the first big stores, the first lending library, in short all
that was seen that day in the Lower East Side, and all that New
owe to that population of immigrants, Françoise recounts,
turning onto a street in front of a fresco or the façade
of the buildings.
A original concept, Françoise is the
only one to propose guided walking tours of Manhattan in French.
Residents or simply
tourists, succumb to the charms of the forgotten treasures of
New York that Françoise Terzian invites you to discover.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . .
Translated from French by Charlotte