Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tenement Museum

Following our overnight flight to NYC (I was happy I actually got a few hours sleep! William wasn't as lucky- we were in different rows), dropping our luggage off at our hotel- Fashion 26, we walked over to the Google office. I was able to get a visitors pass and have breakfast there. They had an interesting display of all of these old computers- it was great fun to listen to William and his co-worker reminisce about which machines were their first and favorites. I then headed off on my own to a place recommended to me by my dear friend Lisa was the one who recommended the New York Tenement Museum and she was right- it was really great! The museum is on the lower East side and you have to be part of a guided tour to even make it inside the building. I went on the first tour of the day- the 10:30 am tour entitled "The Moore's" which focused on the overall history of the building, along with a public health angle, of the life of an Irish family. The photo to the left is the actual museum at 97 Orchard. At the time these buildings were constructed, they were not the "ghetto" but one of the nicer working class neighborhoods. The conditions were still quite cramped with families sharing a 3 room apartment and common outhouse toilets in the back. This was actually one of the cleaner tenements since the landlords used to empty the drop toilets if they became too full. But you did have to schlep your water up and down possibly 4 flights of stairs. At the time, the Irish were on the lowest rung of the social ladder and the museum presented us with some traditional Irish folk songs that illustrated the troubles that they experienced first in Ireland and then living over here in the Tenements. Our guide was great and extremely knowledgeable, as well as passionate about the topic. I think that while this is definitely not one of the main tourist attractions, it provides a different view of what life was like for a good portion of New Yorker's.

1 comment:

lisa midge said...

Thanks for the shout out! And Im so glad that you love the Tenement as much as I did. . . . And you stayed in my old 'hood! Or rather only blocks from my old 'hood. Ahh. Good ole New York!