Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Ukrainian Heritage in New York City

New York City is home to one of the largest Ukrainian ethnic communities in North America. Ukrainians have lived in the robust and ever-changing area known as "Little Ukraine" in the East Village neighborhood of New York City since the 1870's. Nearly 1/3 of New York City's 80,000 Ukrainians reside in the area bound by Houston and 14th Streets, and Third Avenue and Avenue A. 

I am part Ukrainian through my maternal grandparents who emigrated to this country from the Ukraine in the early 1900's.  Although my grandparents had settled in Pennsylvania,  I'm always fascinated to visit this area in the East Village to learn more about my cultural heritage.



Saint George Ukrainian Catholic Church located at 30 East 7th Street, New York, NY had moved to its present location in 1911 from its original location on East 20th Street and First Avenue.  It is recognized as a nucleus of all Ukrainian churches in the New York area. In 1978, St. George's parish built the new church structure that you see in the photo above, in a classical Ukrainian Byzantine style of architecture.


In 1940 the parish established an elementary school, and subsequently a high school, which was accredited by the State of New York. It offers the Ukrainian language as part of the curriculum.

Information from St. George's web site: "The portico of the church has a mosaic of Christ circumscribed with the words: 'Come to me all of you who labor and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.' The mural includes Ukrainians in native costume. In the background is an image of St. George Cathedral in Lviv, Ukraine and the historical Kievan St. Sophia Cathedral (Kyiv, Ukraine). Directly above the doorway of the inner entrance is a mosaic of the church's patron saint George slaying the dragon symbolizing the constant struggle between good and evil."

Across the street is Surma, "The Ukrainian Shop" Their motto is "Come into Surma and spend some time in the old country."  Shall we go in?

Inside the cozy store there is a wonderful inventory of handcrafted Ukrainian goods. Here we see hand woven kilims, embroidered folk blouses and tunics, and brocaded ribbons and trims. 


This display case held colorful hand painted Matryoshka nestling dolls of all sizes.

This show case contained a large assortment of handmade, and commercially made, Pysanky, which are traditional Ukrainian Easter Eggs.


Surma also sells the wax, dyes, and other supplies needed to craft your own Pransky.

They have a large selection of Ukrainian porcelains and ceramics......


......and hand-painted icons and authentic Ukrainian wood crafts.


Surma also sells English and Ukrainian language books about Ukrainian history, culture, holidays and traditions, and dictionaries.  Plus they have selections of popular and classical music from the Ukraine, and greeting cards. Visiting Surma was certainly like taking a trip back to see the folk crafts of the Ukraine, and the friendly staff was very pleasant and helpful. 


On my next visit to the area I hope to visit  The Ukrainian Museum located at 222 East 6th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Aves., so that I can show some of its exhibits on my blog. The museum opened a new building in 2005, and its holdings of Ukrainian folk art and fine art collections include one of the most important documented collections outside of Ukraine! 
I'm linking this post to Susan's "Outdoor Wednesday" event on her blog A Southern Daydreamer, and Jenny's "Alphabe Thursday" event on her blog Jenny Matlock.  The letter this week is "U."  Please visit both blogs and join in all the fun!



Bookmark and Share

68 comments:

Allison Shops said...

How interesting. I've never visited that area, but it looks interesting.

Dropping by from Outdoor Wednesday (post #3). If you haven't registered for our glass vessel sink giveaway, it's open until 5pm EST Wednesday.

Allison
Atticmag

Ebie said...

Such an interesting history and culture. Love those miniature dolls.

Thanks for sharing this, though i have lived in NY for a while, I have not visited this place.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

How interesting! I always learn more when I read your blog! Your photos should be in a book! And those sweet nesting dolls...I would love to have some of those! They are precious! Love the colors!♥

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I had no idea there were so many Ukranians in NYC. I'd love to buy one of those embroidered blouses and I won't be too far from that area tomorrow. Maybe I'll try to find that shop. Thanks for another informative and interesting post.

Claudia said...

I love Surma! It's where I got those (could not afford) exquisite blouses form my cute, semi-hippie days! It is the most beautiful shop indeed. What a fun post - highlighting a neighborhood and a beautiful heritage. Am coming to NYC in August... more later.

Debbie said...

I love this post! My husband and I love seeing different beautiful churches...and the shops where spectacular, so full of color!

GardenofDaisies said...

I have always been amazed by those waxed/colored easter eggs. And my daughter loves the nesting dolls.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Gorgeous Pat... You are so lucky to be in an area where there are so many different cultures. I loved hearing more about Ukraine... That church looks gorgeous... And I loved seeing all of the beautiful handcrafted goods... The colors are fabulous.

Thanks for sharing.
Hugs,
Betsy

xinex said...

What a neat village! It's almost like being in Ukrania.I have been to Russia and it looks pretty similar with those Matroyshka dolls....Christine

Lisa @ Fern Creek Cottage said...

Very interesting post! This is someplace I would love to visit someday!

Joyce said...

I have never been there but not I must put it on my list. I guess there is a large Ukrainian population in the city. You are the best tour guide ever!
Joyce

Average Girl said...

Wow! I love the pictures... I had a family member just come back from a shopping trip in NY and considering we live on the westcoast of Canada, it was a bit of big deal! Great pics!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Fascinating post, Pat! I loved going in the Ukrainian shop with you. I have some Easter eggs that were made in the Ukraine along with a little doll that my MIL gave me. And Shelia would have a fit over the nesting dolls you photographed. I think she has quite a collection, and that store would be right up her alley!

The church is so beautiful, and I think you ought to consider taking some lessons in the language. That would be a great experience. Did your grandparents actually speak Russian at home or to you? I have letters that Mr. Magpie's ggg grandfather wrote to his sister in German when he was a Confederate soldier on the front in Virginia. They moved from Europe to escape the wars there and walked smack dab into the Civil War. The letters surfaced for us recently.

We will never know what these immigrant ancestors faced. While the majority of the ones in my family who came here spoke English, there was a smattering who spoke French, but going to a foreign country and trying to communicate and not knowing the language is a good lesson for all of us to experience. I wish I spoke Spanish because of the number of friends and acquaintances I have in Florida who do. I studied it on HS and college, but my conversational skills are sorely lacking.

XO,

Sheila

Paz said...

This is very cool!

Paz

Annesphamily said...

To visit a part of your own heritage so near your own home! How wonderful!

~Cheryl said...

What a beautiful church! Actually, the entire area is beautiful -- what a great post!

La Petite Gallery said...

As alway's a great and interesting post. I was in Russia for over 2 weeks and couldn't see enough. It
was soo different. A culture shock.
The black painted boxes are beautiful.

yvonne

Olga said...

Wondeful post! I'm Ukrainian, and I've been to NYC, but I didn't know about "little Ukraine". Thank you for the tour of the area.
You call the Easter eggs pransky. I've never heard that word. In my family, we call them pysanky.

Joanne Kennedy said...

Your posts are always so interesting. I love seeing different parts of NY that a tourist most likely wouldn't get to see.

I love those red and white dishes in that shop.

Hugs,
Joanne

diane said...

You find the most interesting shops to show us. Thanks for that as it is the only way I will ever see them, I guess.

Tracy said...

Must confess I wasn't aware of how large the Ukrainian community is there... or it's long, rich history. This was such an educational post, Pat! And as every, your photos tell the stories... :o) Happy Day ((HUGS))

Sandy at Teacup Lane said...

Fantastic post such a beautiful church and the store is unbelievable. You take such wonderful photos too by the way. I'm learning so much about NYC through your eyes.

Jojo said...

It's so funny but when I think of Ukraine, I think of the eggs so I was glad to see them in the post. I've always wanted to have time to try to make my own...one day.

Looking forward to going with you to the museum.

My name is PJ. said...

This was an excellent U!

I wish Surma had an online shop where you didn't have to call in or fax in your order. Darn! There were things I liked!!

Old Kitty said...

Gosh! Another lovely aspect of NYC that I've been ignorant of! Wow! Thank you for a peek into the Ukrainian community there. You have a wonderful heritage.

St George's is a beautiful church and the murals are stunning! And I love that an education system was built around this community to cater for Ukrainain history and language!

Oh that shop is fab!!! I like that you can make your own Pransky!! And I;ve always found Matryoshka nestling dolls fascinating. One doll inside another until you get to the tiniest doll. amazing!

I look forward to learning about the Ukrainian Museum! :-)

Take care
x

My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a fascinating store. I was really hoping you were going to take us inside. I could stay there looking around for hours.
Sam

Mister Meatball said...

I cannot tell you how many wonderful evenings I've spent eating dinner with friends at the Ukrainian Home on Second Ave.

Don't live in Brooklyn anymore (Maine now), so it's been awhile. But the memories are vivid.

Theresa said...

Fabulous color! Love your pics!

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

There's always something interesting over here, Pat. All my ancestors came from the Ukraine...though they were not Ukrainian. They were Mennnonites who were invited by Catherine the Great to make their home in the Ukraine in the early 1700's...and lived in colonies during their time in Russia.

I have a set of the Matryoshka nestling dolls...a souvenir from St. Petersburg. The grands quite enjoy them.

Kathleen said...

My dh is of Ukrainian heritage...I have never been there. Thanks for the tour.
It has been a very busy week here...house guests since Sat. I am trying to catch up on my blog visits!

Nancy said...

Wonderful post! Thoroughly enjoyed the pics and the history.

Vee said...

Such a delightful shop and the colors! So bright and vibrant. I had a set of those little dolls, but never knew the name. I've just called them "Russian Nesting Dolls." Thank you for another tour of your world.

Thanks, too, for the excellent advice. I will from now on consider myself an only granddaughter. Ha!

Riet said...

Hi Pat. I love coming here and learning evey time. I can't believe how many specialty shops there are in New York. How I would love to live there.The Ukrainian shop is out of this world. All that beauty there is in there. Wow. Have a great day.

Just a little something from Judy said...

What an interesting fact, that so many of the Ukranian people life in the section of the city. I thought the stores that you shared looked like ones I would love to browse in. The minature dolls fascinated me. You document each area of the city in such interesting style. Places that I probably won't get to visit, but through your blog I get the privilege of reading and seeing pictures of each. Thank you!

Sara said...

I would love to visit that area - I find different cultures to be so exciting! Love the beautiful Easter eggs...

Ms. Bake-it said...

I love visiting your blog Pat. You always have such informative and interesting posts. This is a great post highlighting the Ukrainian heritage neighborhood. I love the nesting dolls but had not seen the Easter eggs before. They are quite beautiful. The church is beautiful. If I ever get back to NYC, I will be sure to visit this area.

Thank you for sharing this with us!

~ Tracy

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

That looks like such a fun area - especially for shopping. Love the Pransky. They are so pretty, but they do look so labor intensive. The peasant blouses are so "in" right now, and those are beautiful. laurie

jeff campbell said...

This is such a fine post...great photos and sooo interesting. Hard to pick a favorite...I'll go with the church front...would love to visit this neighborhood if I ever get back to NYC...Peace and blessings

Viki said...

I loved all the pictures. That shop doesn't look real big but it looks like one could spend hours in there looking at all the stuff. Great u post.

Red Couch Recipes said...

Since I am not likely to go there, I loved seeing all the items for sale in Surma, especially the Ukrainian nesting dolls and the eggs. So colorful and bright! Great "U" post! Joni

Jo said...

you always show us the most interesting parts of town ... this was no exception, loved it! and ohhh, love those nesting dolls!

Maggie B said...

What a fascinating post, St Georges's Church façade is stunning.
Surma looks like a great emporium, I could imagine spending a lot of time browsing in there.
Maggie

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I could get lost in the shop. The dolls, eggs, and well everything looks so fascinating. Thanks for stopping by.

mbkatc230 said...

Such an interesting post. One of the reasons that I love New York, you can visit lots of other countries without ever leaving the city! The shop is wonderful, what a treasure trove of fun things. And the church is gorgeous, I never would have guessed it was new. Beautiful tour! Kathy

Dishesdone said...

I have to get out more, never knew this was there! Gorgeous school, and church!

You always bring such interesting places in the city to light, I would never have know about, if not for you, always enjoy your posts!

Nora Johnson said...

Such an interesting post that reminded me of my visit to the Ukraine many years ago!

Wishing you a Happy Alphabe-Thursday,

LOLA:)

PS Mine this week is HERE. Hope you can join me!

CatHerder said...

very cool!

Junie Moon said...

Isn't it amazing how much history and wonderful opportunities are available in NYC? I imagine you can write forever and still have wonders to share.

I'm so behind on blog reading; tour annual pool party is this weekend, vacation is imminent, and my friend Paula and I just finished a giant Japanese Knot Bags project. Forgive me when I seem to disappear now and then.

Tracy said...

That looks and amazing place to visit Thank you for sharing

Jenny said...

What a fascinating stop on our little journey through Alphabe-Thursday's letter "U"!

That store is just really intriquing to me. My Mother and sister would love that variety and display of the eggs. They both make them and I know they would love to visit! I'll send them your link, though!

This was such a beautiful post today...

Thank you Pat for helping make Alphabe-Thursday so unbelievably fun and interesting!

A+

Sheila said...

Your blog is wonderfully interesting. My daughter and a friend will be leaving for a week in New York next Friday and I'm sure they'll have a wonderful time. They are looking forward to the Museums and have booked 3 nights at the Theatre. I'd like to be going with them. Thanks for giving us a look at some of the wonderful places in your home town.

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

My grandparents were German and they also settled in PA. There were a lot of Ukrainian families in our neighborhood. I remember the great food that they made!

Lisa@GrandmasBriefs said...

What a rich heritage! Surma looks like my place to go. I love the nesting dolls. I just inherited nesting FROGS (of all things!) from my mother-in-law ... and would give anything for dolls instead of frogs.

Thank you for sharing, as always, the beautiful photos!

mrs. c said...

what a rich place to live! It is wonderful that you can learn about your heritage just by going to another part of your city. I love the nesting dolls and the Easter eggs, the details are amazing. Thank you for sharing your heritage with us!

Pondside said...

New York has to be the most fabulous city - when you can stay in the city and see such rich and beautiful neighbourhoods, such history and such art. Just lovely!

Mary said...

I so enjoyed my trip to Little Ukraine! Seeing the Easter Eggs & dolls in the store was a special treat :-)

steviewren said...

You are so lucky Pat, to have access to so many unusual and diverse cultures. One of the reasons your blog is so interesting (besides your charming self) is all the info you share with your readers. Thanks for the umpteenth time!

Lorrie said...

A very interesting post Pat, I learned a lot as I always do. My daughter just loves the nesting dolls and has a set from when she was a very little girl.

Brenda said...

The more I come to your blog on Alphabe Thursday the more I want to visit New York. I have always wanted a set of nesting dolls. Great post.

LDH said...

Visiting your blog is always a joy! I love learning and seeing things that you post about. Beautiful photos of neat places!

Terra said...

Ok first I LOVE nesting dolls and I was blown away by those eggs...I have never seen them before and I am feeling like I need one!

Sarah said...

Interesting post. I've just returned from a few days visiting in NYC. Sorry I missed these spots.

Melanie said...

What a great shop Surma is. I love the bright colours of the folk art and wow those woven ribbons are gorgeous. Lovely place Pat.

Cheryl said...

What a great U post! The photos both inside the shop and outside in the city are so colorful and uplifting.

Melinda Cornish said...

I love that store!....I have four sets of nestling dolls and I love them. I was fascinated by them as a kid and now my little kids are too....what a great post, I would love to visit that store.

Susan said...

My husband is like 1/3 Ukrainian...the border between the Ukraine and Poland moved so many times back in the day, the lines are blurred...his mother always told us he was Ukrainian through and through. When she died and we got her and her husband's birth certificates with the parents info, things were clarified. His mother was polish and Ukrainian (as it only listed one heritage for each parent Mother Ukrainian and father Polish) His dad's birth certificate said Mother Polish father Austrian. There very well maybe Ukrainian blood on all ends where the polish is. My husband grew up celebrating Ukrainian Christmas on January 6th, as well as the traditional Christmas. He is much older than I, and in ways that is sad as I wished I had the chance to meet more of his family, and learn of their history and traditions. As it is, there is so very much I do not know of my own family, and we are a great mix on booth sides, but heavy on French, German and Native American.

I loved this post, and hope to sometime visit "little Ukraine"...
now following :)

Susan

Christy said...

hey..i have been in that shop...and i love it. what a great walk through an important neighborhood....the church is amazing!

Gracie said...

Ukraine, Ireland, Italy.... your family is a little branch of the U.N......