A New York Minute With the Lower East Side History Project’s Eric Ferrara

Posted On Mon, February 15, 2016 By

Posted On Mon, February 15, 2016 By In Features, People

6sqft’s new mini-series A New York Minute features influential New Yorkers answering spitfire (and sometimes very random) questions about their life in the big city. Want to nominate yourself or someone you know? Get in touch!

Eric Ferrara is one of those people who just screams New York, and it makes sense considering he’s a fourth-generation city dweller. He was born on 71st Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn and is now a professional history author, educator, movie and television consultant and personality, and founder of the award-winning non-profit Lower East Side History Project. Among the books he’s authored are the Manhattan Mafia Guide, Lower East Side Oral Histories, and The Bowery: A History of Grit, Graft and Grandeur. In addition to being ridiculously knowledgable about the city, Eric has that classic New York sense of humor, so we couldn’t wait to hear about some of his most memorable moments, his favorite spots, and his general thoughts on life in New York.

6sqft: Fill in the blank. I knew I was a New Yorker when ______.
Eric: I was born?

6sqft: What’s the best spot in the city to grab a slice?
Eric: Di Fara in Brooklyn, Joe & Pat’s on Staten Island, Lombardi’s on Spring Street. There used to be dozens of great spots throughout the city, but I’ve seen the quality and portions diminish over the years.

6sqft: What is the strangest thing that has happened to you on the train?
Eric: Not necessarily strange, but I used to hate when my mom dragged me to Coney Island and I had to take the subway back with sand in various crevices. That was before subways had air conditioning and everyone smelled of B.O. and suntan lotion. Also, one time circa 1985, a friend and I were chased out of the Bronx warriors-style by a gang of Puerto Rican toughs. They were kind enough to escort us back to Manhattan without any serious puncture wounds.

6sqft: Worst apartment or roommate horror story?
Eric: Mice, roaches, barking dogs, loud music, drug dealers and crackheads in the hallway–the usual.

6sqft: What stereotype about New Yorkers do you embody?
Eric: Like most natives I can be brash and pretty straight forward, but that is only from years of putting up shields to protect your personal space from weirdos. Most New Yorkers are kind people. A lot of tourists and newcomers also like my accent.

6sqft: Yankees or Mets? Giants or Jets? Nets or Knicks?
Eric: Rangers.

6sqft: What part of the city have you not spent much time in but would like to?
Eric: The Bronx. I was mentally scarred after 1985.

6sqft: If you could invest in any part of the city, where would it be?
Eric: A smart financial investment would be in Crown Heights, as well as Flatbush and East New York–which will eventually be gentrified.

6sqft: Where do you do your grocery shopping?
Eric: Can’t beat Chinatown for fruits and veggies, though many of the new Mexican markets in Bushwick are comparable in price and quality.



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