Pickles in a Changing Environment

Alan Kaufman is the owner of "The Pickle Guys", a gourmet pickle store located on the Lower East Side in New York City.  The store on Essex Street is one of the last remaining Jewish European cultural identities left in this section of New York.

                                                                 A new  Hotel on The Lower East Side

For years, Jewish immigrants populated this unique area. They owned tiny stores filled with foods and other goods that they transplanted from Europe. Merchants were selling rich food products which they themselves used to eat in the "old" days, and which were adapted to their new lifestyle in New York.


Over the last half century, the second and third generations of the Jewish immigrants, having accumulating sufficient financial leverage, left the Lower East Side and moved to more affluent areas of the city or to the suburbs. The abandonment of the area by Jewish families left a vacuum that was quickly filled by new immigrants from China, Puerto Rico and other countries. The existing qualities of the area evaporated rapidly and a new flavor and character was injected into the Lower East Side. As a result of these social and economic changes, new architecture started to shape the environment.



                         New residential tower, Designed by Architect Bernard Tschumi.

              Computer generated illustration from Architect Bernard Tschumi Website


New developments emerged in the neighborhood. The low-rise walkup residential buildings started being replaced by imposing commercial towers. The low-rise architecture that was familiar to the newcomers from the previous century, and which afforded them the "comfort zone" they so badly needed, lost its justified role and existence. In its place, global economic forces have imposed radical changes of scale and pace on the once-fragile streets.


Low-rise architecture is sometimes associated with democratic movement, by the people.  On the other hand, high, huge and broad structures are often related to forceful régimes. Nevertheless, on the Lower East Side, a high-rise hotel was built next to modest old buildings and tall residential/commercial towers are planned to be built on the narrow streets.  The existing infrastructures may collapse; it may not be able to absorb the approaching additions.

                                                   Alan in front of his store

Photography: Yossi Matalon                                                                                                      


In spite all the change, Alan Kaufman proudly runs his pickle store, which is located a short distance from the rising towers. "The Pickle Guys" is the name of the store that he manages in an efficient and clean surrounding. As this is the lone pickle store on Essex Street, on Sundays it welcomes long lines of hungry customers who come from near and far to sample the tasty authentic pickled products offered proudly to all.


The clean operation and the friendly atmosphere turn this store into a "place",  a historical landmark, which offers great authentic food from "the old country," while also reflecting the life that once existed in this part of the city. Alan runs his store with great respect and appreciation for the past coupled with tremendous hope and anticipation for a great future.


Link to The Pickle Guys




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