A historian and social activist, Ruth Abram wanted to create a space for honoring America’s immigrants. These small, worn down, multiple family buildings were the first American homes for thousands of immigrants. Abram and co-founder Anita Jacobson were at a loss of finding a proper tenement homage, but in 1988 they found 97 Orchard Street. Over the past 20 years, the Tenement Museum of New York has grown in size and popularity. They now have restored 6 apartments, including the newest one: the home of the Moores, Irish immigrants who lived at 97 Orchard in 1869.
In 2007, the Museum purchased 103 Orchard Street, which is now there Visitors Center, exhibitions, and classrooms. The Tenement Museum has blossomed into a hub for education, tourism, and homage.
Educating Through Experience
With daily tours of the tenement building, neighborhood walking tours, teaching the experiences, and tenement talks. The talks are a perfect place for learning being that they are free readings, discussions, performances and screenings about New York’s history, people and culture. The museum expects about 44,000 students that come to learn and experience the classes and learning process provided by the wonderful staff at the museum.
Under One Roof features the stories of the immigrants and migrants who started a new life at 103 Orchard Street in the decades after World War II. These people helped and worked to make the Lower East Side one of New York’s most diverse and famous neighborhoods. Hear the stories of former resident Bella Epstein, whose parents survived the Holocaust; Jose and Andy Velez, whose seamstress mother left Puerto Rico for new opportunities; and the Wong siblings, whose mother supported the family by sewing in the Chinatown garment shops.
A Top Pick from Don Wildman
“The Tenement Museum of New York provides an essential perspective on America’s immigrant history. If you dip from the European gene pool, it’s pretty likely some relative in your past spent time in what was New York’s teeming Lower East Side. For out-of-towners, the museum demonstrates how so many millions suffered tough conditions just to be American. For New Yorkers, it’s a way to understand how tenement structures became such a staple of city architecture.”
Click here for more of Don Wildman’s top museum picks across New York State.
Take Amtrak to the Tenement Museum of New York
Where to Stay in NYC
Looking for a getaway opportunity? Spend the night and experience all New York City has to offer. Take a look at these great hotel options—some offering exclusive New York By Rail discounts!