Hester Street is named for Hester Leisler, daughter of Jacob Leisler, lieutenant governor of the British provence of New York who was falsely accused of treason and hanged in 1691. However, it is better known for Joan Micklin Silver’s 1975 film, Hester Street (Mendelsohn 2009, 132). During the early 1930s, immigrants filled Hester street to shop and sell. Vendors sold “everything from fruit, vegetables, bread, hot knishes, bagels, hot arbis (boiled chick peas) to tools and used clothing” (Dans and Wasserman 2006, 132). For peddlers, this was the only way to survive in America.
Local shops were another common way for immigrants to earn income. Often immigrants would know a trade and use these skills to create American businesses.
In an effort to find relief from hot, overcrowded tenement life, residents would sit outside on stoops and fire escapes, go to the movies, and play in fire hydrants.