The Adler-Thomashefsky National Theatre at its opening in the Yiddish Theatre District in New York, New York; 1912. x

The Yiddish Theatre District, also called the Jewish Rialto, was active primarily between 1890 and 1940.  It was located mostly on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan, around what is now the East Village, but there were also Yiddish theaters in Brooklyn and other areas of New York City with large Jewish populations.  Famous composer George Gershwin grew up in the Yiddish Theatre District and was inspired by its music.  

The Yiddish theatre scene put on both original works, such as Tevye The Dairyman, but also Yiddish adaptations of plays like King Lear and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Following World War II, with the increasing assimilation of many Jewish people in the United States, the use of Yiddish declined and many of the Yiddish theatres had closed by 1950.  Today, the Yiddish Art Theatre is one of the few buildings that is still standing.  It was built in 1926 and serves as a museum for what once was a center of Yiddish life.