Best (and Most Informative) Means of Time Travel (2008)

Lower East Side Tenement Museum

"OK, I want to you to imagine . . . you've just left your family, your country, you don't speak the language here, and this is your new home." We're smooshed together in a dark narrow hallway, where the air is dense and musty and hot and this "imagine" game is getting easier and easier. We visit the Gumpertz family in 1874, then move to 1910 in the Rogarshevsky's home, and on to 1928 at the Baldizzi's apartment. I'm beginning to think I'm a seamstress from Poland named Tatiana. 97 Orchard Street was home to over 7000 people from 1863 to 1935, when housing laws tightened up and the landlord evicted all the tenants. The building remained sealed until the late 1980s—a sort of time capsule—when the Lower East Side Tenement Museum began researching the lives of the immigrant families who lived there. It's a monument to all people who have struggled in New York and the only museum in the country dedicated to working-class housing and culture.


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