‘Crossing Delancey’ 30 Years Later to See the Lost Lower East Side
Before Guss’ Pickles departed the Lower East Side in 2010 for the depths of Brooklyn, one poster in its tiny storefront always stood apart. It was a faded movie bill for Crossing Delancey, the 1988 romantic comedy starring Amy Irving that basically put the neighborhood on the silver screen. Its subtle presence at the shop made sense, since Peter Rieger’s character, Sam Posner, operated the fictional Posner’s Pickles at the old Essex Street location.
The movie itself, released thirty years ago next month, is a perfect snapshot of the lost Jewish Lower East Side, where Judaica shops once lined Essex Street and yentas roamed Seward Park.
Let’s jump back at the time capsule through the eyes of Crossing Delancey…
The film opens with Izzy, the romantic lead, exiting the subway at Delancey/Essex, with the cheesy music of The Roches playing in the background (“Come Softly to Me”). A young Orthodox boy is wolfing down snacks from Gertel’s bakery. But if you look more closely, the scene is actually captured down at the East Broadway F station. Izzy then walks northward, giving the viewer a taste of the Jewish Lower East Side that no longer exists.
A few other tidbits – Posner plays handball at the Seward Park athletic field during his breaks from the job; Izzy shops with her grandmother (bubbie) inside the Essex Street Market; Bubbie lives in the Seward Park co-op on Grand Street.
And for an obligatory bonus: dude blasting Run-DMC at the Gray’s Papaya on 72nd and Broadway.